Officials Ask Army to Study Brooklyn’s Storm Protections

BROOKLYN -

A coalition of local politicians urged the Army to include Southern Brooklyn in a study that would likely lead to the construction of barriers and other such structures aimed at protecting the area from severe flood damage.

In the wake of the wide-spread destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Federal government sponsored a two-year study to identify areas that were vulnerable to the effects of heavy storms. One of the nine regions that the Army Corps of Engineers, who conducted the evaluation, flagged was the New York/New Jersey Harbor.

The next step is a “Feasibility Study,” that has just gotten under way which will make practical recommendations for selected areas. Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Council Member Chaim Deutsch and Council Member Mark Treyger joined forces to advocate for Southern Brooklyn to be included in the Army’s plans.

“For more than three years since Hurricane Sandy, my district has suffered from incremental flooding. High tide, sewer backups, and forecasts of stormy weather have the residents of Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, and Brighton Beach living in fear,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch. “Our shoreline is in critical need of resiliency improvements. This study is crucial to determine the vitality of these sections of my district and examine potential improvements to our infrastructure, as well as our protection against future storms.”

Pointing to flooding that hit Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, and Brighton Beach earlier this month as a result of high tides and rain, the Councilman said that sewer systems and infrastructure were “not resilient” in their present state. A spokesman from Deutsch’s office commented to Hamodia that the episode, though contained, exposed how vulnerable the neighborhoods are to even slight weather anomalies.

A spokesperson for Sen. Schumer’s office told Hamodia that their office hopes that the Army Corps will consider resiliency measures for Brooklyn similar to those presently being discussed for Rockaway and Staten Island such as sea walls, levees, and tide gates. The goal is for the study to make recommendations for a comprehensive system to protect from storm damage.

James D’Ambrosio, Public Affairs Specialist for the US Army Corps of Engineers, told Hamodia that the Army is committed to ensuring the area’s safety.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is keenly aware of the storm risks facing the South Brooklyn communities of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island and Canarsie,” he said.

D’Ambrosio added that as part of the ongoing studies in the region, “the Corps is in the process of determining which of these would most quickly and appropriately address the needs of reducing coastal storm risks to South Brooklyn. Once this is determined, the area will be carefully studied, as are other projects the Corps is involved with in New York and New Jersey. The New York District [Army Corps] is committed to working with all stakeholders to reduce risks from severe coastal storms throughout the region.”

The Feasibility Study is federally funded and was included in the recently passed Omnibus spending bill. The politicians expressed dismay over their claim that despite suffering heavy damage during Hurricane Sandy, Brooklyn had received less attention than other areas.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars have been committed for resiliency work to the Rockaways, to lower Manhattan, and to Staten Island. All Southern Brooklyn has gotten so far is a Coney Island Creek study and some sand,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency. We need a regional coastline protection plan for all of Southern Brooklyn that safeguards life, property, and affordability against climate change and rising sea levels. These resiliency studies and funding have the potential to mitigate rising flood insurance costs, as well.”


Updated Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 12:33 pm