Protecting New YorkCity officials debate proposals for sea walls to protect New York from storms

Published 12 December 2012

Since Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeast, many people have had to decide what to do with their damaged homes; now elected officials in New York must decide how to protect coastal areas around the city from being run over by storms in the future; New York officials are now proposing similar projects, including a $16 billion barrier for New York Bay, which was proposed by City Council president Christie Quinn

Since Hurricane Sandy ripped through the northeast, many people have had to decide what to do with their damaged homes. Now elected officials in New York must decide how to protect coastal areas around the city from being run over by storms in the future.

Residents of Sea Gate, Brooklyn say they want six- or seven-feet high cement and steel walls to be built as a protector, while planners want to spend billions of dollars on storm surge projects around the city.

Fox News reports that  estimates say that only about twelve of the 850 homes in the area were destroyed by the storm. Most of the houses sustained water damage and some minor issues, which is why residents are saying that flood walls are the best option at this point. They want the Army Corps of Engineers to step in.

Not everyone is on board. “There are only really two ways to protect houses on the beach,” Budd Griffis, the former New York commander of the Army Corps of Engineers told Fox News. “You can make a wider beach, and you can make a higher dune. You can put seawalls in, and anything that you put in front of the house to dissipate energy is going to help, but it is not going to protect it. You are still going to have a problem.”

Griffis also said that homes which have concrete barriers the owners installed may be still standing; but most likely they too have sustained significant damage.

What they will do is protect the properties from normal storms. It will probably give considerable protection,” Griffis said. “But when you have, like we have had, two 100-year floods in two years, seawalls don’t protect against that kind of disaster.”

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently studying the area, but does not have any plans at this time to install any seawalls. Chris Gardner, the Corps spokesman said at this time there is a sand protection project planned for Sea Gate, but construction has yet to start. The project will focus on T-Groins, rock jetties to be built perpendicular to the beach, which will catch and build sand up along the shore.

Gardner said that when it comes to large-scale construction, Congress would have to authorize the funds for a study by the Corps. New York officials have been pushing for such action, but nothing has taken place yet.

There is currently no congressional authorization for the large scale storm surge barrier type style project,” Gardner told FOX News.

The Corps did build a hurricane barrier in Providence, Rhode Island, fifty years ago. Officials credit the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier with preventing flooding in the town during Sandy.

 New York officials are now proposing similar projects, including a $16 billion barrier for New York Bay, which was proposed by City Council president Christie Quinn. Some doubt that such a costly project would be effective, but Sea Gate resident, worried about their homes, say they are confident such a wall would lessen the damage of any future storm.

 

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