SINKING SOLUTION

March 21, 2019 at 4:30 am

A frightening thought: a massive storm surge completely knocking out a third of lower Manhattan within the next 30 years. The possibility is real and so is a solution.

Aired on March 20, 2019.

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>>> CLIMATE CHANGE MAKES
HEADLINES DAILY BUT IF CURRENT
PREDICTIONS ARE TO BELIEVED,
ONE-THIRD OF LOWER MANHATTAN
WOULD BE OVERRUN BY A STORM
SURGE IN 30 YEARS.
ACCORDING TO A NEW STUDY THIS
CAN HAPPEN IF NO STEPS ARE TAKEN
TO PROTECT THE DISTRICT AND
POINTS NORTH.
SINCE HURRICANE SANDY FLOODED
LOWER MANHATTAN AND THE POWERFUL
STORMS THAT HAVE FOLLOWED, MAYOR
de BLASIO WANTS TO BE READY.
HE IS PROPOSING BUILDING AN
ADDITION TO THE LOWER MANHATTAN
COASTLINE BY 500 FEET TO FORTIFY
AND PROTECT IT.
TONIGHT, WE'RE TAKING A CLOSER
LOOK AT THIS PROPOSAL AS PART OF
OUR SERIES ON THE CHALLENGE OF
CLIMATE CHANGE.
JOINING ME IS ANNIE McDONOUGH
FROM CITY AND STATE NEW YORK.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
>> SO FIRST LET'S START OFF WITH
THIS PROGRAM THAT THE MAYOR
PRESENTED TO NEW YORK AND TO THE
WORLD LAST WEEK.
QUICK SYNOPSIS AGAIN, WHAT IS IT
THAT HE WAS PROPOSING?
>> SURE.
SO IT'S THE STUDIES RELEASED
LAST WEEK WHICH FOUND BY 2050,
37% OF PROPERTY IN LOWER
MANHATTAN WOULD BE AT RISK OF
STORM SURGE.
THAT BY THE YEAR 2100 IT WOULD
BE ALMOST HALF OF PROPERTY IN
LOWER MANHATTAN.
SO THE CLOCK IS REALLY TICKING
FOR BUILDING UP RESILIENCE
MEASURES IN LOWER MANHATTAN.
AND THESE HAVE BEEN TALKED ABOUT
FOR A WHILE SINCE HURRICANE
SANDY.
BUT THE REAL HIGHLIGHT OF THIS
PLAN THAT THE MAYOR INTRODUCED
IS SORT OF A BIT RADICAL.
IT'S TO BUILD OUT A SECTION OF
LOWER MANHATTAN AROUND FINANCIAL
DISTRICT IN SOUTH SEAPORT.
ABOUT 500 FEET OF EXTRA LAND
BASICALLY.
WHICH IS EQUIVALENT TO TWO SMALL
CITY BLOCKS AND IT WOULD BE
ELEVATED LAND UP TO 20 FEET AT
THE HIGHEST POINT WHICH IS WELL
ABOVE THE SEA LEVEL RISE AND
IDEALLY THAT IS WHAT WOULD
PROTECT THE PART OF THE CITY
FROM STORM SURGE.
AND THE REST OF THE MEASURES ARE
A BIT MORE TRADITIONAL.
SORT OF AROUND THE TIP OF LOWER
MANHATTAN, BUILDING UP FLOODBAT
LIKE THAT.
>> HOW IS THIS AT LEAST RECEIVED
BY ENVIRONMENTALISTS,
SCIENTISTS, ENGINEERS WHO WOULD
BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PUTTING THIS
INTO ACTION?
>> SO I THINK PART OF THE PRISM
IS THE PROCESS OF DECIDING THIS
IS THE ONLY VIABLE OPTION FOR
THIS PART OF THE CITY WHICH IS
FINANCIAL DISTRICT AND SOUTH
STREET SEAPORT.
IS THAT THE PROCESS -- THE CITY
HAS ENGINEERS AND CLIMATE
SCIENTISTS WORKING ON IT, BUT
IT'S NOT CLEAR IT'S THE BEST
PROGRAM.
IT IS PARTICULARLY LOW, IT IS
ABOUT EIGHT FEET ABOVE THE
CURRENT SEA LEVEL WHICH IS LOWER
THAT UP THE REST OF LOWER
MANHATTAN.
AND THERE ARE OTHER SORT OF
BARRIERS, LIKE SUBWAY TUNNELS.
SEWERS, OTHERTI BUILDING BARRIEF
THE EXISTING LAND DIFFICULT.
BUT I MEAN, AS FAR AS CLIMATE
ACTIVISTS AND GROUPS, THEY'RE
WELCOMING THIS RADICAL ACTION
THAT'S WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN
CALLING FOR FOR A LONG TIME.
IT'S A MATTER OF WHETHER IT WILL
GET DONE.
>> LET'S GET DOWN TO THE
DOLLARS.
THIS IS A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR
PROJECT AND THE THING THAT
CAUGHT PEOPLE'S ATTENTION THE
MAYOR INTENDED TO DO IT WITH
FEDERAL DOLLARS.
THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS ALREADY
PRETTY MUCH PUT THE BRAKES ON
DOING A BRAND-NEW TRANSHUDSON
TUNNEL FROM YOU KNOW THE TUNNEL
FROM NEW JERSEY TO NEW YORK SO
IF THEY CAN'T GET THE
THE TUNNEL, WHY WOULD THIS
ADMINISTRATION KICK IN BILLIONS
OF DOLLARS TO REBUILD LOWER
MANHATTAN?
>> I THINK THAT'S WHAT YOU SAW
THE MAYOR SAY, THE MONEY HAS TO
COME FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE LOWER MANHATTAN IS SUCH
A CENTRAL BUSINESS AREA FOR THE
COUNTRY AND THE WORLD.
BUT HE ALSO SAID BASICALLY THE
NEXT BREATH THAT IT'S NEVER
GOING TO COME FROM PRESIDENT
TRUMP.
SO IT PRESENTS SORT OF A TOUGH
SITUATION.
IF IT DOESN'T COME FROM THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, IT COULD
COME FROM PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT
WHICH IS A TOUGH AREA TO BEGIN
BECAUSE THAT WOULD EXTEND THE
PROCESS AND, YOU KNOW, PRESENT A
LOT OF COMMUNITY CONCERNS.
SO THERE'S SORT OF A HINT THAT
HE IS PLACING HIS BETS ON CHANGE
IN OFFICE IN 2020 BECAUSE HE
GETS ASKED ABOUT THAT QUITE A
LOT.
>> EVERYBODY WANTS TO KNOW WHAT
HE'S GOING TO DO FOR 2020.
>> SURE.
HIS OTHER SORT OF OPTION THAT HE
FLOATED IS EVEN IF PRESIDENT
TRUMP WINS A SECOND TERM, IF THE
SENATE CHANGED IN 2020.
AND CHUCK SCHUMER THE
PRESUMPTIVE LEADER OF THE S
SENATE, THAT COULD HELP IN
SECURING SOME FEDERAL FUNDS.
>> WELL, SO FAR IT'S JUST A
PLAN.
BUT WE OF COURSE WILL SEE HOW
THIS DEVELOPS AND WHAT ACTUALLY
COMES INTO EXISTENCE IN THE NEXT
10, 20 YEARS.
ALL RIGHT.
WELL, LISTEN, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR JOINING US.
THANK YOU FOR HELPING US GET A
BETTER GRIP ON WHAT WE MIGHT BE
SEEING TO HELP PROTECT NEW YORK
FROM THE NEXT BIG HURRICANE.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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