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How Can New York Prevent Future Superstorm Disasters?

After nearly a decade of ignoring warnings about the type of disaster witnessed this week, New York City and State officials may no longer be able to push off implementing drastic plans to safeguard the city from rising seas and super storms.
October 31, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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David W. Chen and Mireya Navarro consider the options for "major infrastructural changes" available to public officials as they confront the reality that what were once considered "100-year" storms may now occur fairly frequently.

"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state should consider a levee system or storm surge barriers and face up to the inadequacy of the existing protections," report Chen and Navarro. "The Cuomo administration plans talks with city and federal officials about how to proceed. The task could be daunting, given fiscal realities: storm surge barriers, the huge sea gates that some scientists say would be the best protection against floods, could cost as much as $10 billion."

"Under a proposal put forth by the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University in 2004, 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."

"Still," say Chen and Navarro, "some experts consider the barriers a last resort, and urge more modest changes, including subway floodgates."

Despite the renewed focus on the need to plan for disaster prevention, and not just response, "[w]hat scientists, who have devoted years of research to the subject, now fear most is that, as soon as the cleanup from this storm is over, the public will move on."

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Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 in The New York Times
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