Staten Island Using Oyster Reefs to Protect From Storms
One of the winners of the Rebuild-by-Design competition is a plan to protect the South Shore of Staten Island with reefs of oysters. Full story, map and diagram here.
Oysters used to be abundant in NY and NJ waters and the oyster industry literally built many of the cities in the region. Oysters provide an additional benefit of filtering the water they live in, thereby cleaning it. Unfortunately, pollution and runoff exceeded the oysters’ ability to clean the water in which they lived, and oysters and their reefs died off.
Most of us in the area know that the State of NY moved quickly on relocating whole Staten Island neighborhoods after Sandy. NJ…not so much. Best in depth article about the mechanics of how this all unfolded in NY by Elizabeth Rush in Urban Omnibus. http://urbanomnibus.net/2015/02/leaving-the-sea-staten-islanders-experiment-with-managed-retreat/
On this second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, we want to focus on a few stories where people were followed from their situations after the storm until now. This one relates to a buyout on Staten Island. That is one less property we have to worry about, one less homeowner who will need relief in the future. From Jim O’Grady on NPR http://www.npr.org/2014/10/29/359873662/after-the-waves-staten-island-homeowner-takes-sandy-buyout
We like this one for the follow-up, and that it highlights a buyout program that is working.
Think a $100 billion hurricane can’t happen; think again. It already has. The Hurricane of 1821 has been analyzed by the re-insurance company Swiss Re. A re-insurance company insures insurance companies. They took at closer look at available information from the 1821 storm and determined that if it were to hit today, it would cause $100 billion in losses. Full report here, which they have just called, The Big One.
Mind you folks, this is not some meteorological fantasy; mother nature has already dished this one up for real. The reasons it would cause $100 billion in losses now are a combination of:
- Much increased population since 1821
- Much more development along the coast since 1821
- Higher sea levels, approx 2 feet higher
Get the short version from a WNYC radio report here by Ilya Marritz.
Oh and when we were on the Swiss Re website, we noticed they have a whole tab devoted to Re Thinking. Guess what most of that is about? Just sayin!
Over 150 teams submitted proposals to make the NY / NJ region more resilient, ten finalists were selected and the winning six designs were announced yesterday by HUD Secretary Sean Donovan. This finishes a year an a half long process where HUD promised to create areas where the rebuilding was not business as usual.
Congrats to all the winners, there are some terrific, very forward-thinking designs in there. We have to admit we are a little disappointed that nothing along the Jersey Shore was selected. Story on NJ.com by Erin O’Neill of the Star Ledger
The Rockefeller Foundation has sweetened the pot in their 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. The selected cities will have the salary of a Chief Resiliency Officer paid for by the Foundation. More on Fast Company’s fast coexist page by Adele Peters http://www.fastcoexist.com/3028079/100-cities-will-soon-have-their-first-ever-chief-resilience-officers
As a country below sea-level, the Netherlands has been dealing with water issues for centuries. In the 1950’s they began building the Delta Works, a series of massive barriers built to protect against the 10,000-year storm. They have stopped doing that since they don’t believe it is possible anymore in the face of sea level rise. They have re-thought their approach which is now to let the water in and live with the water. Henk Ovik was in charge of this in the Netherlands and was brought to the US to guide the Rebuild by Design competition. More on the man in the NY Times from April 9, 2014 by Russell Shorto http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/magazine/how-to-think-like-the-dutch-in-a-post-sandy-world.html
Rebuild by Design is a federally supported design competition to make the coasts more resilient. An Associated Press story by Wayne Parry highlights one proposal here.
But don’t just focus in on this one design, there are many proposals, all vying to move off the design table and become a reality, viewable here. Attend the ceremonies announcing the winning designs listed here.
There is a documentary about beach replenishment called Shored Up. It was reviewed in Variety magazine recently, and in the Village Voice and the New York Times in recent months. The biggest take away concept from the film is summed up in one quote. Continue reading “Beach Replenishment Film”
Pro Publica did some excellent investigative reporting on the state of FEMA flood maps in the lead up to Sandy. In the early 2000’s it seems that FEMA invested only in digitizing old flood maps instead of updating the data on what areas would now flood. An interview with authors Theodoric Meyer and Al Shaw on WNYC aired on December 6, 2013. But don’t just listen to the 4 minute interview, read the story below and see the interactive map of where floods were predicted compared to where they occurred.