Southern Brooklyn

Superstorm resiliency study halted by Trump administration

February 27, 2020 Paula Katinas
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A decision by the Trump administration to turn off the tap on a storm resiliency study of the New York-New Jersey region isn’t going swimmingly with local lawmakers.

The New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was launched in 2017 to look at ways the region’s shorefront areas could be protected from storm surges in the event of another event like Superstorm Sandy.

But the administration suddenly called a halt to the study last week, a move that angered U.S. Rep. Max Rose, a Democrat representing Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Rose likened the decision to drop the study to “telling New York City to go ahead and drown.”

Superstorm Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012, killing 53 people, causing an estimated $19 billion in damage, flooding the subway system and leaving scores of homes and businesses in desperate need of rebuilding.

In Brooklyn, waterfront neighborhoods like Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach and Red Hook were hit particularly hard, officials said.

“Despite what the president thinks, superstorms cannot be wished away by denying the existence of climate change. These are complicated challenges and every second we aren’t researching a solution is a second we can never get back. Our city will pay the price whether through more severe flooding, higher insurance premiums and even lives. This study must be reinstated,” Rose said.

Mops and buckets are not a serious solution to climate change and this is no joking matter,” Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Justin Brannan said in a joint statement.

“Southern Brooklyn had to fight to be included in this resiliency study. This is not only going to make our infrastructure and housing less safe, but it will lead to mass displacement for local families living in vulnerable coastal communities that will be forced to pay high flood insurance costs once new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps are drawn. This is the equivalent of the president of the United States telling New York City to drop dead,” the two lawmakers said.

Treyger and Brannan urged New York’s two U.S. senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, to fight to get the study back on track.

Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Gravesend, is chairperson of the Council’s Committee on Resiliency and Waterfronts. Treyger, who is also a Democrat, represents a district that includes Coney Island, one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy.

The study came to a halt because the funding ran out, according to a statement a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers emailed to the Eagle.

“There has been a funding lapse in the FY 2020 budget for the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study. The NY/NJ HATS study has to compete for funding with all of the other studies in the Corps of Engineers’ national portfolio. The study did not receive federal appropriation funding in the Corps’ fiscal year 2020 work plan,” the statement read.

The work “is suspended until further federal funding is available,” the statement read. 

But the corps is committed to finding ways to protect waterfront communities, according to the spokesperson. “We will continue to work with our partners in New York and New Jersey to ensure further coastal storm risk reduction measures for the region,” he said.

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