Hurricane Irene mostly bypassed NYC and we were very lucky - it was high tide. New Jersey and upstate areas weren’t so lucky this time. An 1821 hurricane created a 13 foot wall of water damaging much of the town. This was when sea levels were lower and the City had just 125,000 people - plus some illegals and thousands of black Slaves.
Although far enough north to miss most hurricanes, New York’s Lower Bay’s funnel-shaped geography forces a hurricane-driven ocean surge right through the Narrows and flooding everything in it’s way. Add in a high tide and it’s all over. Downtown Manhattan and Staten Island get it really bad and everything from Hackensack to Perth becomes underwaterfront.
The Subways will flood because of miles of open sidewalk grating and 75% of all NY area commuters will need to find alternative transportation. The most important floor of every store, office building, and townhouse will be filled with saltwater and muck (and every floor below that totally full of muck). Underground electrical vaults, major rail lines & highways, The Rockaways, and all Airports will be toast. This would be our Tsunami.
Connecting Governors Island with Manhattan for Ritch Developers or trying to plug every subway opening doesn’t really address the big picture. Someday dams and locks will be needed at the Narrows, Throgs Neck, and Staten Island to S. Amboy, along with huge 24/7 pumps.
Until we have to build these dams, the inevitable storm surges that could devastate the World’s Capital can be checked by looking back to Nature. The shallows of Lower Bay not only amplify tidal surges, they provide a shallow base to build new marshes and tidal islands which have mostly been destroyed along the East Coast for (greedy) Human Development.
The New Bight Tidal Preserve, a wilderness paradise, would absorb much of the storm surge energy while slowing down current tidal flows. NY Harbor tides used to be much slower before we filled half of it in. With dredging and a higher ocean, The Narrows accepts more water racing in and making storm surges that much worse; Hell Gate sometimes looks like rapids.
Built over time, all of this could be paid for by charging a penny for every dollar a millionaire or billionaire makes each year. Painless!
A tidal island defense before The Narrows and Staten Island may be our easiest way to protect the world economy. Plus! its construction will allow Business As Usual. Isn’t that all that really matters anyway?
Just keep Hoping this Hurricane Thing Never Happens.