BROOKLYN — As the city battens down for the Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1, many are hoping to strengthen their communities against devastating storms that ravaged the coastline last year.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began a $20 million study, May 28, to determine how to reduce flooding and risk of storm damage for vulnerable populations along the North Atlantic coast.
From Virginia to Maine, the study will consider includes 31,000 miles of coastline that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, including waterways like the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek, said Dr. Joseph Vietri, director of the National Planning Center of Expertise for Coastal Storm Risk Management, based in Brooklyn.
“You have a frightening situation that has the ability to affect millions of people,” said Vietri, who is leading the study that hopes to provide viable risk-reducing solutions for people, properties, infrastructure and ecosystems.
Working with city, state and federal agencies, Vietri and his team will consider climate change scenarios and possible rises in sea level along the North Atlantic coastline, where low-lying areas like Red Hook could be dangerously at risk.
“Sandy gave us a glimpse of our future,” he said.
The “North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study” was spurred by the passage of the Disaster Relief Appropriation Act of 2013, a bill that, along with the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, authorized $60 billion for disaster relief agencies.
While the study covers a vast region, New York and New Jersey remain “the center of damage for the storm,” said Vietri, adding that the staggering population density of the cities puts them at greater risk.
Heavily urbanized areas must be tackled differently from regions like the Jersey Shore in figuring out ways to reduce storm damage like elevated roads, raised bulk heads, flood walls and proper land use for people, he said.
Scientists and engineers will also encourage “coastal resilient communities” through a stronger, sustainable coastal landscape, according to the study.
The study will “integrate economic, climatological, engineering, environmental and societal data” from these coastal regions and look into how “green infrastructure” faired during Hurricane Sandy and impacted coastal flooding.
The study will be completed in January 2015.