How New York City is preparing for its next big storm

Battery Park City.
Battery Park City.
Alexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock
Battery Park City.

How New York City is preparing for its next big storm

Along New York City’s coastlines, and further inland, fortifications are being built to prevent damage from rising sea levels.
April 19, 2019

Fortifying New York City against storm surge and flooding is not just about preparing for the next Superstorm Sandy, but preparing for a storm that could cause even more damage. A study released in 2017 found that New York City could be at risk of major floods every five years after 2030.

After Superstorm Sandy hit, a number of emergency and short-term measures were taken to strengthen vulnerable points in each of the city’s five boroughs, including tons of extra sand being packed along the shores of hard-hit areas, including the Rockaways and Staten Island. But a bevy of infrastructure projects are coming together now that could offer longer-term protection. City & State checked in on the progress of a few of those more sizeable undertakings.

Rockaway Boardwalk

Status: Complete

Much of the boardwalk along Rockaway Beach was damaged or destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. While New York City could have simply rebuilt the structure, officials opted to construct a concrete promenade that acts as a flood barrier using resilient materials like sunken steel pilings coated in epoxy.

Staten Island sea wall

Status: Planned

Using federal, state and city dollars, a 5.3-mile sea wall will be built on Staten Island from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach – an area hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Like the Rockaway Boardwalk, the Staten Island sea wall will act as both a flood barrier and a public space that will include a boardwalk and bike paths.Heading 3

Battery Park City

Status: In progress

A $134 million project to develop coastal protections at Battery Park City is set to begin construction as soon as this year, with plans including a continuous flood barrier along South Battery Park City and the construction of garden and park walls along the western perimeter to act as flood protection.

The Battery

Status: In progress

Moving south, the city plans to invest $165 million into fortifying the Battery by elevating the waterfront esplanade and constructing a grassy berm at the back of the park that can protect against storm surges. Construction on the Battery project is set to begin in 2021.

East Side Coastal Resiliency Project

Status: In progress

The long-planned East Side Coastal Resiliency Project has settled on a new design that focuses mainly on raising East River Park to reduce the risk of flooding. After delays, the project is set to begin construction in 2020 and wrap up by the summer of 2023.

Interim Flood Protection Measures

Status: In progress

While massive undertakings like the Staten Island sea wall and reconstructing the East River Park take time, New York City is planning interim protection measures in time for the upcoming hurricane season, starting in June. Among those planned for lower Manhattan include water-filled dams and sand-filled barriers that can be deployed on short notice in the event of a storm.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.