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NEW YORK—New York’s LaGuardia Airport is set to receive $37.5 million in federal and state funds for five projects designed to protect it from another storm such as Superstorm Sandy.
Although LaGuardia is surrounded by a berm system to protect from flooding, the record storm surge from Sandy topped the barrier. About 100 million gallons of water flooded the runways during Sandy. The floodwater rendered pump houses temporarily inoperable. Commercial flight operations were closed for three days, with some 250,000 passengers missing flights.
“Hurricane Sandy forced us to re-evaluate how we prepare for and respond to major natural disasters in New York,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who spoke at the airport Sunday, stated in a press release. “The question is not if another storm will hit, but when, and the state is doing everything it can to ensure that New York’s infrastructure is strong and durable when the time comes.”
Simply building a higher berm around the airfields is impossible due to requirements from the Federal Aviation Administration. The five projects thus address the impact of a flood that could overrun existing barriers.
Flood barrier berms will be installed around a building that houses critical runway lighting systems as part of one of the projects. Another project involves construction of concrete floodwalls meant to protect a substation that powers airfield systems.
A third project will have additional gravity drains built to supplement the existing drainage network at the airport. Some of the drains will discharge into the Flushing Bay, consistent with environmental requirements.
The fourth project involves replacing old generators with larger and more energy-efficient ones. The fifth project will rehabilitate the airport’s power distribution grid to help the airport withstand extreme weather.
About $28 million of the costs will be covered by federal disaster recovery funds awarded to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.