Adapting To New Realities In Red Hook And Gowanus As We Move Forward Post-Hurricane Sandy

Gowanus Canal overflowing its banks during Hurricane
 FEMA Hurricane Flood map of the Gowanus Canal area
"In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that New York City's low-lying, heavily populated neighborhoods are more exposed to the threat of coastal flooding in a hurricane than most people realized
Large areas of southern Queens, southern Brooklyn, the lower east and west sides of Manhattan, and the perimeter of Staten Island could all suffer damage from a hurricane's storm surge. In addition, storm surge from a strong hurricane would not be limited to waterfront properties and could conceivably push miles inland in some areas. New York City's unique geography — located at a "bend" in the coastline between New Jersey and Long Island — makes it especially vulnerable.

Even a low-level hurricane that makes landfall near New York City could wash ocean waters over large sections of some coastal neighborhoods.
Storm surge can make landfall five hours before the hurricane itself. It can also take place after a hurricane has moved away from the city, as high seas slump back into confined spaces like Long Island Sound."

The flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effects on New York City. Here in South Brooklyn, it will take many months, if not years for low-lying neighborhoods like Gowanus and Red Hook to recover. However, as we move forward, let us hope that our City's officials have understood that these waterfront communities are fragile and that we need to consider the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise when planning the future of these areas. 

So far, Mayor Bloomberg,  New York City Planning under Amanda Burden, as well as members of our own Community Board 6 have ignored the warnings, especially in Gowanus. Instead, they have approved new developments, which will bring more residents to the shores of this EPA Superfund site and into a flood zone.  More people to evacuate and shelter in a storm.

It is up to us to hold them accountable and to get involved. And most importantly, we all need to get informed.
Below is a message from - Roland Lewis of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, a non-for-profit group that has been working hard for over a decade to influence the development and use of our waterfront and shoreline. Please take some time to read it.
There are voices of reason out there.  

Pumping Out and Picking Up in a Changed World
Two hurricanes in two years. What we build and where we build at our shoreline are no longer academic questions. 
We need to adapt our shorefront plans -- and this could mean hard choices about where people live and how to protect the infrastructure that serves our metropolis. There will be calls for floodgates and other great barriers to defend our region, but we should also seriously think about a shoreline design that allows water to flow out as easily as it flows in, without damage to streets and buildings. We must work out a new relationship with the water, not fight it; think Venice, where the water is embraced and famously made part of the city, not New Orleans, hiding behind larger and bigger levees. Working with Mother Nature in this way could be more cost effective and less environmentally damaging, less likely to cut off the city from the rebirth of its waterfront. 
Most of all we need political leaders to make the response to sea level rise their highest priority. Mayor Bloomberg's nationally recognized Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability has a questionable future at the conclusion of the Mayor's last term. We must keep this office functioning at the highest levels and complement it with well-staffed regional, state and national level equivalents, all of them -- us! -- working in concert to develop coordinated plans for a safe, clean, thriving, wisely rebuilt waterfront. 
Roland Lewis, President and CEO, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance

Incidentally, the MWA will be holding its 2012 General Assembly on November 14, 2012. They will be seeking input and advice on how to "substantively continue to make our harbor a great place for recreation, transportation, commerce, education, and restoration"

Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance 2012 General Assembly
November 14, 2012
South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton Street
New York NY
Reception and networking - 6:00-6:30pm
Meeting- 6:30-8:30pm