Changes Coming to Lower Manhattan Thanks to Sandy

May 3, 2018 Last Updated: May 3, 2018

New York City and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have allocated almost $1 billion to help the city recover from Hurricane Sandy and protect the city from future floods and hurricanes.

President Barack Obama created the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force in 2012 to help affected regions. The task force and HUD then launched the Rebuild by Design competition in June 2013 to solicit plans from scientists, engineers, developers, and architects to increase resiliency in Sandy-affected areas. Out of the seven winners, four projects were in New York.

BIG U: Lower Manhattan $335 million
Living with the Bay: Long Island $125 million
Hunts Point Lifelines: The Bronx $20 million
Living Breakwaters: Staten Island $60 million

“The BIG U” is a design proposal, led by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), a Copenhagen-, New York-, and London-based group, calls for a series of barriers that stretch from West 57th Street, through Battery Park and ending around East 42nd Street. The proposal includes a combination of berms, flip-down walls under FDR Drive, and four-foot-high benches to protect against flooding.

The East River Park component of the project is set to start in early 2019, according to the city’s website. It’s not clear when the rest of the project is slated to begin.

Henk Ovink, a senior adviser to the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, says that while walls are good, building an ecosystem that works with the water instead of against it is more sustainable.

“For that to happen, we have to live with the water, to understand it, while still understanding our vulnerabilities,” he said, as reported by the New York Times.

Some techniques that Ovink suggests involves lowering the flood plain, deepening rivers, and storing water to stop fast flowing water.