Hurricane Sandy 5 Years Later: Lower East Side Gets a “High Water Mark” Sign

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Just a few days before the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the Lower East Side is still waiting for the city to begin resiliency upgrades along the East River. But beginning next Friday, you’ll see small signs of progress along the waterfront.

Make that a small sign similar to this one.  There will be an unveiling on Friday the 27th at 11 a.m. on South Street near Rutgers Street, in front of Pier 35. It’s part of FEMA’s High Water Mark Initiative, which is meant to,” increase local communities’ awareness of flood risk and encourage action to mitigate that risk.”  Joseph Esposito, commissioner of the NYC Department of Emergency Management, will be on hand for the ceremony.  There was some debate as to the “high water mark” during Sandy in this area. The powers that be eventually settled on 5 feet.

About $200 million has been dedicated for flood protection in the Two Bridges area (below Montgomery Street). According to the most recent presentation from the city, flood barrier construction in this area is not anticipated until 2020. There were reports over the summer that cost overruns and other complications had delayed construction on a separate flood protection initiative along East River Park, above Montgomery Street.


Federal Government Awards $176 Million For Flood Protection Below Montgomery Street

Rendering: Lower Manhattan flood protection.

Rendering: Lower Manhattan flood protection.

Lower Manhattan will be receiving another big grant from the federal government to protect neighborhoods along the waterfront from future storms and rising water levels.

In the New York Times, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer reports that the city is the beneficiary of $176 million through a nationwide competition being run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funds will be used to create a flood protection system from Montgomery Street to the northern tip of Battery Park City.

In an earlier competition, the feds awarded New York City $335 million for a network of berms and flood walls from 23rd Street to Montgomery Street. That part of the project is now undergoing environmental review ahead of the anticipated start of construction in mid-2017. The city already allocated $100 million for the resiliency program below Montgomery Street. It had hoped for up to $500 million from Washington in new funding.

Schumer told the Times, “The Lower East Side waterfront is almost a wasteland compared to the West Side waterfront, and this should make them much more equal.”

UPDATE 11:28 a.m. Reaction is coming in from local elected officials. From City Council member Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer:

As authors of a resolution in support of the City’s application for critical federal funding to protect Lower Manhattan from flooding, we are gratified by HUD’s decision to award $176 million for badly needed resiliency measures. It is our hope that this award, together with the $100 million in resiliency funding already committed by the de Blasio Administration, will provide the solid financial backing to begin quickly the work of safeguarding property, vital infrastructure, and most importantly, lives in the path of future storms.

From the better late than never department, the resolution will be voted on by the Council today.  Here’s reaction from State Sen. Daniel Squadron:

Today’s news… is a significant step toward completing comprehensive resiliency measures around Lower Manhattan to the north end of Battery Park City. These funds, together with the nearly $115 million I worked with the city and state to have committed to Lower Manhattan, will allow resiliency efforts to continue south of Montgomery Street, north of which the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project is proceeding. Along with Lower Manhattan colleagues and leaders, I have been pushing to ensure that protection around the entire tip of the island is a top priority. I am pleased that city, state and federal leaders have responded to our push — the city and state committed $14.75 million last March, the city pledged $100 million in last year’s budget, and Senator Schumer advocated forcefully, including with HUD Secretary Castro.

City Will Spend $100 Million For Flood Protection Below Montgomery Street

City Officials Meet Residents Next Week About Flood Protection Below Montgomery Street

East Side Flood Protection Workshop is Happening Tomorrow

Public Workshops Scheduled For East River Flood Protection Plan

Feds Award $3 Billion to NYCHA Buildings, Including Some on LES, For Flood Protection

Mayor Announces New Funding For Lower Manhattan Flood Protection (Updated 3/16)

City’s Outreach on East River Berm Project Called Lacking, “Slap in the Face”