Sea Walls, Wetlands, and Porous Streets: Designing a Storm-Proof New York City

Monday, November 12, 2012 - 02:40 PM

Storm damage in Sea Gate, Brooklyn (photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office Photo/ Edward Reed)

Would a $20 billion sea wall, stretching from Sandy Hook to the Rockaways, have prevented damage done to New York by Hurricane Sandy's storm surge?

Engineer Fletcher Griffis, speaking on Monday's Brian Lehrer Show, says yes -- "but gosh knows what it will do to the ecology in New York Bay."

Other ideas kicked around during the interview: porous roadways that could reduce flooding,  increased wetlands, and "soft" solutions like zoning changes and ending subsidies for flood insurance.

Listen to the interview below. And check out a data visualization from the U.S. Census Bureau about population growth near the coastline.


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Comments [2]


We were lucky this time. No heavy rain. No hurricane force winds.
Imagine the runoff meeting the sea surge. Imagined all those many flooded cellars not even near the coast. Imagine having greater wind damage to roofs, and trees on houses, to many more homes. Then imagine all those homeowners absorbing the "hurricane deduction clause". Not $200 or $1,000 deductible, but $20,000 to $30,000 deductible. How many NYC homeowners have that kind of cash these days?

Nov. 13 2012 04:27 PM

seawalls in NY harbor may cause worse flooding in other areas. wetlands and porous streets are very good ideas which are already being done... they prevent sewage overflow and light flooding... but they wouldn't have helped in Sandy. Humans can't conquer nature - we just have to try to minimize damage.

Nov. 13 2012 08:07 AM

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