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5 Resiliency Projects to Watch 4 Years After Hurricane Sandy

By  Nikhita Venugopal Irene Plagianos Katie Honan and Nicholas Rizzi | October 29, 2016 10:02am | Updated on October 31, 2016 8:30am

 Cars were submerged when an underground parking garage near Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan was flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Cars were submerged when an underground parking garage near Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan was flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

NEW YORK CITY — Hurricane Sandy dealt a deadly blow to New York City four years ago, hitting all five boroughs with a devastating force that still echoes throughout neighborhoods and communities.

Record levels of flooding left homes and businesses submerged under several feet of water, more than a quarter-million households lost power and a massive fire engulfed dozens of homes in Breezy Point. Sandy caused $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity, according to the city.

“Four years ago, Sandy lifted the veil on many of the City’s vulnerabilities,” read a statement from Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday afternoon. “Since then, we have put a tremendous amount of effort into defending our coastal communities and ensuring that our buildings and infrastructure are prepared to tackle 21st century threats."

The city touted the achievements made in ongoing resiliency projects over the past year, as well as an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to modify its flood maps after the city argued that FEMA should calculate risk based on the current flood predictions.

However, one of the city's most controversial post-Sandy programs, Build It Back, remains a sore point for the mayor's administration. Build It Back will not meet its 2016 deadline despite repeated promises one year ago. 

Here's a look at five post-Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects in the works in each of the city's five boroughs:

Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System, Brooklyn

The city is considering an "integrated flood protection system" for Red Hook, one of the city's worst impacted neighborhoods during Hurricane Sandy, to reduce the risk of coastal flooding.

While specific plans for the system have not yet been determined, officials say it will likely be a series of permanent and deployable features, such as a permanent wall, deployable gates, drainage modifications and street elevations.

The project is currently funded for $100 million, though critics say an original $200 million was promised for the flood protection system. The city recently replaced $50 million of those funds with city capital after federal funds were funneled to the struggling Build It Back program. 

Three early-stage maps were recently presented for the project.

READ ALSO: A New Plan to Rebuild a Resilient Red Hook, Block by Block

Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, Queens

The Rockaway Beach boardwalk was decimated by Hurricane Sandy, but after multiple delays — including one caused by the nesting of endangered piping plovers — its full completion is expected next summer. Plans include a bike path, stairs and ramp made out of wood salvaged from the old boardwalk and the word "ROCKAWAY" in large letters that will be visible by air. The $480 million boardwalk project will also comply with new FEMA flood standards, bringing it up to 7 feet higher than the original at some points.

A long-delayed part of the boardwalk spanning Beach 117th to Beach 126th streets finally opened this past July after construction issues and delays. 

Hunts Point Resiliency Project, The Bronx

Hunts Point, home to a 329-acre food distribution center, is promised a $45 million investment to reduce the risk of coastal flooding and to kick-start a resilient energy project, the city said.

A public presentation earlier this month noted key vulnerabilities for the area, which included significant threats of coastal flooding to low-lying industrial areas. Residential areas located upland did not face those similar threats.

Hunts Point faced relatively minor flooding from Hurricane Sandy, but additional precaution was needed in the event of another storm, The Hunts Point Express reported. "Hunts Point Lifelines" was selected as part of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development's Rebuild by Design competition in 2013.

Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project, Manhattan

Lower Manhattan was deluged by Hurricane Sandy’s floodwaters, leaving scores of businesses wrecked, and residents without power, but four years later, the process of creating storm protections Downtown is really just starting.

The city’s Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project, using a mix of recently announced city and federal funding, remains in the early planning stage for plans to harden Lower Manhattan’s coastline. Storm protection measures could include deployable flood walls, levies and raising the coastline with parkland — flood barriers that would stretch from Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side around the tip of Manhattan, up to Battery Park City. The city has secured $203 million for Montgomery Street to the Brooklyn Bridge, known as the Two Bridges project area, and a separate $108 million for the “Manhattan Tip” – from the Brooklyn Bridge around to the west, to the north end of Battery Park City.

The LMCR acknowledges that the $108 million is not enough money to create the appropriate storm barriers around the tip of Manhattan, but they are working to source additional funds. Construction on storm barriers for LMCR projects wouldn't begin until 2018 – a process that Downtown residents say is taking far too long, with not enough funding.

► Midland Beach Flood Protection Project, Staten Island

Almost a year ago, the city broke ground on a $22 million project to prevent flooding and brush fires at Midland Beach in Staten Island. 

The city noted that construction is underway on the New Creek Bluebelt project, which is set to restore more than 5 acres of natural drainage area. The plan also includes building storm sewers and storage basins to catch and filter stormwater as well as a New Creek watershed to direct stormwater to the main channel of New Creek.

According to the mayor's office, the Bluebelt project will also support the implementation of a 20-foot levee on Hylan Boulevard and buried seawall along the borough's coastline — part of a $579 million storm prevention plan from the Army Corps of Engineers. 

— Reporting contributed by Irene Plagianos, Katie Honan, Nicholas Rizzi, and Nikhita Venugopal. The story was written by Nikhita Venugopal.