With so many people still in need of help a year later, it is almost in hushed tones that people mention how this is probably not the last of these mega-storms we will see in the near future. The mayor talks about building the east side of Manhattan up to a levee-like level as a barrier to future flooding.
A building in lower Manhattan is experimenting with an aqua wall, a wood plank wall that goes up when a storm is coming. The wall covers the entire front doorway of a luxury building, looking like a Noah’s Ark school project.
The rationale is that if the water can be stymied for a few hours with the aqua wall, it will not come into the building through the neighbors’ walls.
Workers practice assembling the wall by sliding vertical metal studs into grooves. The wood planks are then stacked horizontally between the studs. While watching this team pop out of a truck and assemble the wall, one wants to cue the theme song from “The Benny Hill Show.”
But this is what building management companies are now forced to think about. They need to keep water out of their elevator shafts.
As for Manhattan, the idea of new construction with barriers in mind is a good idea, and maybe the only one that can help hold back a rising tide. When one building goes out in Manhattan, it means that hundreds of people are displaced. When water gets into the subway system, it shuts the city down.
Staten Island and the Rockaways are the most vulnerable parts of the city. Houses are weaker than buildings. All areas of the city require a contingency plan, which may be a good project for Mike Bloomberg to focus on after he leaves City Hall.
The rebuilding of these areas needs a leader with proven results of getting things done. The new City Council class and the new mayor are going to have to put a plan in place for people who will be affected by future storms.
The most recent news from Senator Charles Schumer that federal dollars will be coming in for people in Rockaway and the rest of the city is great news. The job locally, however, is to prepare as best we can for the next one.
On The Queensway
Among the opinions about the proposed High Line-style park that would run through the backyards of homes on 98th Street in Woodhaven is one that calls for a resurgence of the old Rockaway Long Island Railroad line.
There has been no serious discussion about restoring the tracks to a functioning railroad, but the need is definitely there for Rockaway residents trying to get to Manhattan. The money, however, is not there for a project like that.
The issue remains whether this park should replace what is there right now. A solution to the problem would be to build the park up to the point where it reaches the homes on 98th Street and have it end before it intrudes on their privacy. This would be a win-win solution.
If the park winds up being a success, the notion of extending it could be revisited later and proponents of the park would have more to go on.