After Hurricane Sandy: What Have We Learned?

In the time since Superstorm Sandy inundated Solar One and Stuyvesant Cove Park, a lot of work has been done and much has been learned. While Sandy may have been an unusual once-in-a-hundred-years storm, it’s difficult to say how soon or how often storms like that may hit the NYC Metropolitan area in the future, and as an environmental organization located right at the edge of the East River, Solar One has a strong incentive to make sure we and our community are ready for the next time. In the Park, we’re planting thousands of new plants, including more shrubs, grasses and hardier salt-tolerant plants. Some species were all but wiped out last year, while others have come back stronger than ever. Among the new natives are seaside goldenrod, blue mist flower, bitter panic grass, smooth and aromatic sumac, purple love grass and bush honeysuckle. Park staff and volunteers have been working hard throughout October to get them all in the ground before the first frost.

Andropogon virginicus and Echinacea purpurea

Andropogon virginicus and Echinacea purpurea

Eupatorium coelestinum and Solidago sempirivens

Eupatorium coelestinum and Solidago sempirivens


The Solar One building, which was completely submerged by a 14-foot wave, underwent many significant renovations, including new mold-free sliding doors, sheetrock and linoleum tile, as well as a brand new stage and back deck. Sandy, and the new flood plan, also necessitated changes to the plans for Solar 2, a new state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot educational facility, designed to replace Solar 1. The first floor has been raised 15’ to allow storm surges to pass underneath, and the new design follows Passive House guidelines, creating the most energy efficient building possible. Solar 2 will be New York City’s first fully resilient, LEED Platinum, energy positive, water reuse demonstration facility that will serve as a hub for Solar One’s web of programs as well as a renewably powered refuge center in the event of future disasters. You can learn more about the Solar 2 building here.


Solar One has also been active in trying to help other communities become more resilient and prepared for the next storm. After finishing the Solar Sandy Project, which brought mobile solar generators to 17 sites in neighborhoods badly damaged by the storm, our Energy Connections program expanded to include our first community solar initiative in central Brooklyn. This program helps residents organize together to install solar pv systems as a group and aggregate their collective purchasing power. Nationally, the community solar model has been very effective in helping to make 2012 the biggest year ever in the US for new solar installations. A decentralized generation movement puts less stress on the grid and creates more energy-independent communities when the grid fails – ultimately building the resiliency of communities to prosper amid the range of circumstances that they are likely to face as a consequence of climate change.

And speaking of the post-Sandy grid, our most recent Clean Energy Connections panel discussion focused on the state of the grid one year after Sandy.  You can see the whole presentation online here. 

The Solar Sandy Project has concluded Phase 1. Our report on what we accomplished appears below:

The Solar Sandy Project began with a phone call to Solar One on November 5th. Chris Mejia of Consolidated Solar had mobile solar generators that he usually leased to construction sites, and he wanted deploy them to areas without electricity following Superstorm Sandy. Solar One, unsure what to do with this amazing offer, posted the request on Facebook. SolarCity saw it, contacted Consolidated Solar, and deployed the first generator. SolarCity then brought Solar One back into the fold, asking for help to expand the project and find more sites. Solar One built this website and launched the project on November 10th.

Over the course of 44 days, the Solar Sandy Project brought solar-powered electricity to 17 blacked-out sites in the Rockaways, Red Hook, New Jersey, Staten Island and Long Island. With these solar-powered generators, communities charged cell phones, powered lights, ran laptops, and even hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. To see all the locations we powered, check out the map below. And very big thanks to our partners SolarCity, Consolidated Solar and NYSERDA, and to our funders HSBC and the 11th Hour Project.

View Solar Sandy Project in a larger map


  • Yellow Suns – locations were systems were deployed in the last weeks of the project.
  • Grey Suns – locations where systems were deployed but had been moved.
  • Light Blue – Systems that have been deployed by friends and affiliates.


These are the locations where Solar Sandy generators were deployed:

Belle Harbor Yacht Club 533 Beach 126th Street, Belle Harbor
Veggie Island/Rockaway Taco 95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd, Far Rockaway
NY Cares Relief Center Rockaway Beach Blvd between Beach 123rd and Beach 124th St, Rockaway Beach
Medical Clinic Beach 106th Street, Rockaways
Boarders Surf Shop and Yoga/Massage Studio 198 Beach 92nd Street, Rockaways
VFW Post 2179 One Veteran Lane, Middletown, NJ (2 10kW generators)
SI Recovers Midland Beach Hub 1128 Olympia Blvd, Staten Island
Staten Island Jewish Community Center 1466 Manor Road, Staten Island


The Solar Sandy Project
By Solar One!  |  View on Facebook


Check out these links to articles on the Solar Sandy Project:
NYC Economic Development Corp blog
Clean Energy Authority
Greentech Media
The American Solar Energy Society
Yahoo Finance
Natural Resources Defense Council

You can also see this piece on about the Solar Sandy Project in Staten Island: