A Storm Surge Barrier For Manhattan Is A Death Sentence For Staten Island

Manhattan hurricane Sandy

Photo: AP

If storm surges were built to protect lower Manhattan, it will make storms hit much harder in the surrounding areas, including some of those that were the worst hit by Superstorm Sandy — Staten Island, The Jersey Shore and Long Island.After Sandy’s aftermath, many people have suggested spending billions to build a storm surge barrier around New York City, but Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, of City College Of New York’s Spitzer School of Architecture, has a problem with that.

“If you mitigate to protect Lower Manhattan, you increase the impact in other areas,” Nordenson said in a statement. “Everyone outside of the surge protection zone would be in jeopardy because the water doesn’t get reduced, it just goes somewhere else. It’s an environmental justice issue. You can’t just save Wall Street.”

Instead of storm surge barriers, Nordenson recommends using techniques from nature and ecology to improve the city’s ability to deal with storm surges. For instance, improving the infrastructure of the subways, highways and power plants. She says this will also be cheaper than building surge stoppers.

“There are things we can do besides building higher and higher seawalls everywhere,” Nordenson said. “For example, if we replace a wall with a gradient edge that slopes into the water or we give the shoreline a more irregular shape there will be more room to accommodate water.”

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