Scientists have said for almost a decade that New York could be put in danger from rising sea levels, flooding and extreme weather, but now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, city and state officials may finally be listening, according to the New York Times.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state should consider a levee system or storm surge barriers, as future storms may continue to ravage the city.
“The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level,” Cuomo said during a radio interview, according to the Times. “As soon as you breach the sides of Manhattan, you now have a whole infrastructure under the city that fills — the subway system, the foundations for buildings.”
Cuomo’s office plans to talk with city and federal officials about the possibility of installing storm surge barriers, huge sea gates that could cost as much as $10 billion.
The Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University proposed in 2004 that large portions of the city could be protected by three movable barriers installed at the upper end of the East River near the Throgs Neck Bridge, under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and at the mouth of the Arthur Kill between Staten Island and New Jersey.
Some experts believe the barriers should be a last resort, and instead are urging smaller-scale changes, like the installation of subway floodgates. After a power outage halted the subways for several hours in 2007, the MTA spent $34 million on protections, but since then no additional state money has come in for protections.
According to the Times, during a Tuesday briefing, Bloomberg said right now he was focused on getting the city up and running again, and felt it was too soon to determine a long-term plan.
“Three of the top 10 highest floods at the Battery since 1900 happened in the last two and a half years,” Ben Strauss, director of the sea level rise program at Climate Central in New Jersey, told the paper. “If that’s not a wake-up call to take this seriously, I don’t know what is."