New York May Get Hurricane Barrier
Following super storm Sandy New York City may be looking at a surge-protection barrier. Sandy's relentless, wind-driven tides inundated seven subway tunnels under the East River, immersed electrical substations, and shut down the financial district and power south of 35th Street. It flooded parts of all five boroughs in the city of 8 million and killed more than 100 people in the United States, 42 in New York City. A 2009 engineering study by Mahwah, N.J. based HydroQual estimated that a barrier system involving massive floodgates at key points such as the East River and the Verrazano Narrows would reduce the flooded area of the New York metropolitan region by 25 percent, the population affected by 20 percent, submerged property 35 percent, and cut storm damage to sewage plants and other hazardous waste facilities by half. Conceptual designs of several such systems were floated at a 2009 conference at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. While such a system is expensive estimates range to $17 billion — Sandy's damage and economic losses to the region may reach $50 billion, $33 billion of that in New York State alone. Preliminary estimates are $10 billion and $17 billion to undertake some combination of surge-barrier system. Building levees, restoring wetlands and strengthening beaches to improve the efficiency of the storm barrier would add $10 billion to $12 billion. A third of all Americans live in counties immediately bordering the ocean, according to a report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which integrates federal research on climate change. Coastal and ocean activities contribute about $1 trillion to the nation's gross domestic product. Yet half of the nation's coastal wetlands, which serve as natural surge barriers, have been lost. A 2009 report from New York's Office of Emergency Management predicted that a catastrophic storm surge would put almost two million New Yorkers in 743,000 households and 461 miles of major roads at risk from flooding.