Quote:In Zarrilli's view, there is no time to waste. By 2030 or so, the water in New York Harbor could be a foot higher than it is today. That may not sound like much, but New York does not have to become Atlantis to be incapacitated. Even with a foot or two of sea-level rise, streets will become impassable at high tide, snarling traffic. The cost of flood insurance will skyrocket, causing home prices in risky neighborhoods to decline. (Who wants to buy a house that will soon be underwater?)
Quote:For one thing, there's always a question about what level of protection the barrier is designed to provide. In parts of the Netherlands, barriers are required to protect from a one-in-10,000-year flood; in New York, most government agencies require protection only for a one-in-100-year flood plus 30 inches of sea-level rise. A barrier like the Big U would in theory be designed to protect from another Sandy, but not much more. (And by 2100, Sandy-like events are predicted to happen far more often.) I asked Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner at BIG, why the barrier wasn't designed to withstand, say, a 500-year flood: "Because it's infinitely more expensive," he said.
Another obvious problem is that barriers only protect the people who are behind them. The first stage of the Big U, which will run down the East Side from 25th Street to Montgomery Street, near the Manhattan Bridge, will have the virtue of protecting several large public-housing developments on the Lower East Side, as well as a key power substation that flooded during Sandy, causing a massive blackout in Lower Manhattan. "It's clearly about Wall Street," says Klaus Jacob, a disaster expert at Columbia University. Given the importance of Wall Street to the U.S. economy, that's not surprising. But how long will it be before Red Hook, an economically diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn that was also heavily damaged by Sandy, gets a barrier? Worse, a wall around Lower Manhattan might actually deflect more water into Red Hook, says Alan Blumburg, a highly respected oceanographer at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. "It might keep water out of Manhattan, but it will make the problem worse for people in Brooklyn, not better." (A spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio disputes this, citing engineering studies that show the impact on Brooklyn would be negligible, and points out that $100 million in federal funds have been allocated to design a flood-protection plan in Red Hook.)
The most pernicious problem might be complacency. Barriers, dikes and levees make people feel safe, even when they are not. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, some people didn't evacuate because they assumed the levees would not fail; that assumption cost lives. "Barriers make people stupid," says Jorissen. "They allow you to ignore the risk of living in dangerous places – if something goes wrong, it can be a catastrophe."
There were other, less brutal ideas for how to protect the city. Even before Sandy hit, a team headed by Susannah Drake, a New York urban designer known for working with natural landscapes for flood protection, proposed elevating the Lower Manhattan coastline to the original 1650 contours, then waterproofing utilities in vaults under the sidewalks, raising and redesigning streets to allow them to hold water during floods, and transforming the waterfront of Lower Manhattan with salt marshes and wetlands absorbing wave energy. But projects like this are complex and expensive, making them difficult to sell as a quick fix. And they require people to acknowledge that the world is changing fast and they will live differently in the future. So much easier to just build a wall and forget about it – "until a big storm comes along and washes away the wall," Drake says. "Then you have a disaster."
Quote:You could argue, of course, that the government's role is not just to deal with the needs of people right now, but also the needs of people in the years to come. That's what they're doing in London, for example, where the barrier that protects the city from flooding is now being retrofit to protect it until 2100, or in Germany, where parts of the city of Hamburg have been elevated and floodproofed to withstand 25-foot-high storm surges. But, for better or worse, thinking hard about – and preparing for – the long-term future is not the American way
Quote:In the end, there is only one real solution for sea-level rise: moving to higher ground. In the near future, one of the main drivers of what policy wonks call "managed retreat" is likely to be the rising costs of flood insurance, which is provided to most property owners through National Flood Insurance Protection, an outdated, mismanaged federal program that subsidizes insurance rates for homeowners and businesses in high-risk areas (commercial insurers bailed out of the flood-insurance market decades ago). Under NFIP, few people who live in flood-prone areas pay the actual cost of the risk. In addition, grandfather clauses in the program often allow homeowners to rebuild in areas that are doomed to flood again very soon. Attempts by Congress to reform the program have failed miserably, and it's now $23 billion in debt. Eventually, increasing property losses will force reform and insurance rates will go up and up. "When people have to pay more and own more of the risk themselves, their decisions about where they live will change," says Alex Kaplan, a senior vice president at Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/new...z4DXn5Bxic
Does anyone else here live in a coastal area that is projected to flood and/or have serious consequences in the coming years due to climate change/rising sea levels/bigger storms?
My family has been in Brooklyn NY for 100 years now.. I have friends and acquaintances that are still buying new homes in very low lying areas in the city, like literally right off the beach in the Rockaways or on Long Island. Even my apartment is right off the water (not a pleasant waterfront, but water just the same). The whole thing makes me very nervous and kinda incredulous that no one seems to be moving out towards higher ground, they may not read the projections or even be aware of them but they did live through Sandy as we all did so I dont know if its ignorance or something else at this point.
If anyone else lives in one of these areas are you planning to do anything about it? Like leave or something else? Am I the only person concerned about this who isnt paid to be concerned about it?