After announcing nearly $2.7 million in cuts to a key temporary flood mitigation program under the latest round of budget cuts, New York City Mayor Eric Adams now plans to restore funding for the Interim Flood Protection Measures Program following a wave of resident concerns, City & State exclusively reports.
The program, overseen by the New York City Office of Emergency Management, was designed to provide swift, temporary protection to neighborhoods and other low-lying areas that are vulnerable to coastal flooding as the city works to implement more permanent mitigation measures and infrastructure. Born from the sheer destruction unleashed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, safeguard measures deployed under the program include flood barriers – walls designed to be quickly installed in doorways and other open areas that lead into buildings – massive, water-filled tubes intended to withstand flood waters, and fabric-lined wire mesh cubes filled with sand. Installation in the city’s most at-risk neighborhoods began in 2016 and concluded in 2021 at the Atlantic Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Residents and environmental advocacy organizations were quick to express concerns about the elimination of the program’s funding after Adams announced billions of dollars of cuts across New York City agencies on Nov. 16. Construction of a series of sweeping coastal resiliency projects intended to provide the city long-term protection from extreme weather is ongoing, making the program a key, shorter fixture to protect vulnerable neighborhoods from coastal flooding.
Those concerns fueled City Hall’s decision to restore the program’s funding, according to a spokesperson for Adams. The city will restore $223,000 to Interim Flood Protection Measures Program in fiscal year 2024 and a subsequent $825,000 in each of the following fiscal years up until 2027 – figures that will be reflected in the upcoming January preliminary budget.
“In the face of significant fiscal challenges, we balanced the budget as the law requires. And while we minimized disruption to services, the mayor has been clear that he will never do anything to put public safety at risk,” Liz Garcia, deputy press secretary in the mayor’s office said in a statement. “Our administration is always listening to New Yorkers, and we have heard the communities most impacted by flooding – as a result, we are restoring funding for the (IFPM) program to maintain an important defense for coastal areas during extreme weather.”
According to Garcia, the city is reviewing the best way to restore the program’s funding through the budget process. It’s not immediately clear where the savings will come from.
Restoration of the funding comes as New York City contends with gradually rising sea levels and the threat of climate change fueling more frequent, more powerful coastal storms. Hurricane Sandy awakened city, state and federal leaders to the pressing need for a significantly bolstered defense against storm surges on the Atlantic coast, including on the New York-New Jersey Harbor area. Coastal resiliency projects are ongoing, including the East Side, Lower Manhattan and Red Hook Coastal Resiliency projects, the Raised Shorelines project, and the Army Corps Atlantic Shorefront project.
“As we continue to act aggressively to complete long-term flood prevention projects, we will continue taking steps like this to keep New Yorkers safe right now and foster a more resilient, equitable city,” Garcia said of the city’s decision to restore Interim Flood Protection Measures Program funding.