In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the city of New York immediately started looking for ways to protect the city from future environmental disasters. Some of the ideas included sea walls, floating barriers islands and reefs.
What started as a debate about whether to defend or adapt, has since turned into a $20 billion proposal that aims to do both. Mayor Bloomberg wants to use a combination of removable sea walls, levees and other defences alongside adaptive methods such as marshes and better flood-proofing in homes.
Walls would be used to protect inland waterways, preventing floodwater from penetrating the city. Building sand dunes in Staten Island and the Rockaways, along with extending beaches and marshes – proven to be effective at managing storm surges – could prevent water even getting inland in the first place.
Asides from physical changes, there are also policy changes the Mayor wants to introduce. These would change the way city develops in terms of construction and development – much of the city is currently built on low-lying floodplains. This could involved future buildings being built on stilts, or restricted residential units below a certain altitude.
Finally, the city would use some of the money to issue grants and subsidies to those in flood-prone areas. It would then be their responsibility to ensure their homes and businesses are properly protected, and don’t allow damage to spread to surrounding buildings.
All in all, the city is moving quickly to make sure it is ready if and when, a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy strikes again. In the face of climate change, these measures would also mean the city is prepared for it’s effect years, if not decades into the future.