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Designs address climate change in Sandy-affected region

Ten design teams from around the world, as part of a White House initiative, Monday revealed 41 plans meant to help Sandy-affected states better address climate change and other issues.

The Rebuild By Design project, founded after the superstorm by President Barack Obama's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, unveiled the designs at New York University before a crowd of hundreds.

Of those plans, developed by experts in planning, design, engineering and science, 10 will be selected by HUD for funding. The projects, which address structural and environmental vulnerabilities, will be implemented starting in March, according to the project's website.

Design teams were on hand to answer questions. They had sought advice from local residents during the three-month development process.

One design for the Lower East Side of Manhattan addresses its inadequate sewer system. The team proposes a "combined water collection basin" to absorb stormwater. Another suggests projects in the Rockaways to shift retail stores inland and elevate new commercial development. Many were designed to help whole regions better adapt to changing climate and demographics.

Dorian Dale, director of sustainability and the chief recovery officer for Suffolk County, was skeptical of the plans becoming a reality. "I think the challenge for us is to see what they are doing and extract what can be brought home and implemented. . . . That is where the rubber hits the road."

Jim Ruocco, of Freeport, of Operation S.P.L.A.S.H. (Stop Polluting, Littering And Save Harbors), an environmental group that works to protect local waterways, was eager to see how the plans merged with more local efforts. These would include New York Rising, a state-led program meant to help local municipalities solve their own problems.

While the local plans have merits, he said he is excited to see different approaches.

"This is backed with a lot of science and nonstate people" with "out-of-the-box" solutions, he said.

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