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Old Posted Nov 2, 2012, 12:21 PM
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Smile NEW YORK | New York Ocean Barrier

By Anthony Castellano
Nov 2, 2012 6:42am

In the wake of superstorm Sandy’s massive destruction to coastlines in the East Coast, many experts suggest that a sea wall barrier could have minimized the deadly storm surge that swept away homes and knocked out power to millions.

The catastrophe prompted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to propose this week that a feasibility study to consider the idea.

Oceanography professor Malcolm Bowman told ABC News that a sea wall barrier could have stopped Sandy’s 14-foot storm surge earlier this week that crippled the city by flooding the subway system and parts of the electrical grid.

“If we had implemented these barriers by now there would have been no damage to New York City resulting from Sandy. By that I mean no damage coming from the ocean,” Bowman said, who teaches at Stony Brook University on Long Island.

Places like St. Petersburg, Russia, London and the Netherlands could serve as models since their sea walls control flooding for areas that are either at sea level or below.

Invited by Bowman and his colleague Douglas Hill, two European engineering firms have drawn up proposals for walling most of New York off from the sea. The barriers are very high tech and in one design, a wall lays flat on the bottom of the harbor, pivoting up when needed to block a storm surge.

Although the sea barriers offer great protection for low-lying coastal areas, they come with a hefty price tag. One proposal for New York’s harbor costs more than $6 billion.
Skeptics say the massive barriers would not work on long stretches of the coastline like the New Jersey shore.

By Jennifer Peltz,Peter Svensson, The Associated Press
November 1, 2012

To be sure, some scientists have reservations about the storm-surge barrier concept.

Some are concerned about how the structures could affect tidal flow and other environmental features of New York Harbor — and about whether barriers would be socially fair.

"Who gets included to be behind the gate, and who doesn't get included? ... How do you make that decision in a fair way?" Robert Swanson, an oceanographer who is Bowman's colleague at Stony Brook, said in an August interview.

Other experts question whether barriers would even work in the long term. Klaus H. Jacob, a Columbia University climate-risk researcher who has advised New York City officials, has noted that given the unknowns of climate change, any system designed now could prove inadequate in the future.

But advocates believe that America's largest city needs to take bigger steps given its concentration of people and financial infrastructure.

"With the kind of protection that has been considered so far, you cannot protect a multimillion-inhabitant city that runs part of the world economy,"
said Piet Dircke, who has worked on the extensive system of sea barriers in the Netherlands with the Dutch engineering firm Arcadis.

His firm's proposal is to build a barrier in the Verrazano Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, shielding Upper New York Bay. It would be supplemented by two smaller barriers, one between Staten Island and New Jersey and the other on the East River. Such a barrier would have protected Manhattan and much of Brooklyn and Staten Island from Sandy but left southern Brooklyn and John F. Kennedy International Airport exposed.

Robert Trentlyon, a New York community activist who has been advocating for storm-surge barriers, sees the one-two punch of Hurricane Irene in 2011 — which came close to flooding subway stations in southern Manhattan — and Sandy as a sign that the time has come.

"Having had two storm surges within one year, and their both being major ones, I just find it very difficult to think the city could not go ahead and act,"
the retired local newspaper publisher said by phone Sunday from his Manhattan apartment, which was left without power. His neighbourhood, though not his building, was among those that flooded.

In August, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler urged city officials to take a comprehensive look at storm-surge barriers, bulkheads and other flood-fighting devices.
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