With the 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaching in October, two Queens lawmakers are a step closer to forming a panel to explore how New York can prepare for catastrophic coastal storms in the future.
The New York State Senate recently passed S.7141, sponsored by state Senator Joseph Addabbo, to set up a commission to study the feasibility, costs, impacts and best locations for the construction of a seawall around the city of New York’s coastline.
“Over the past decade, many parts of my district and thousands of constituents have dealt with one horrific storm after another, which is now becoming increasingly common,” Addabbo said. “New York City must prepare now for the next superstorm, to determine where a seawall might help save lives and protect vital infrastructure that could cost billions to repair. A study makes perfect sense to determine how a seawall can be vital to New York City infrastructure, vulnerable communities and simply giving us the upper hand before the next threat arrives.”
The 16 members of the commission would include individuals with expertise in one or more of the following areas: climatology, hydrology, environmental, aquaculture, flood risk management, environmental justice, ecological restoration and management or coastal science and engineering. The commission would be chaired by the state Commissioner of Environment Conservation or a designee.
“We are seeing the increase in devastating hurricanes and tropical storms impacting New York City. We must be proactive in determining what measures we can take to help make our city safer from rising sea levels and deadly storm surge,” said Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, who carries the legislation in the lower chamber. “This bill will mandate a study to determine the costs, feasibility and locations of where to place a seawall along the NYC coastline to protect our people and our infrastructure. Other cities have installed similar structures, and we cannot continue to be reactive, we must be proactive. This study starts that process.”
The final report to be issued by Dec. 31, 2023, would include additional information on areas that are more likely to be at risk from coastal hazards, including extreme weather events, with projections extending through the year 2100 and feasibility, costs and locations of nature-based solutions and on-shore protection measures.
“This legislation has been vetoed multiple times after it passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly, thereby hindering our efforts to solve future flooding issues, at a time when we should be moving forward to protect an individual’s home, personal property, and life,” Addabbo said. “I am hopeful that the governor recognizes the importance of this legislation, which passed both houses again this year, finally signing the bill into law so we may proactively address future events impacting our communities.”