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$100M flood-protection system planned for lower Manhattan, city officials say

Congesswoman Nydia Velazquez, left, and Mayor Bill de

Congesswoman Nydia Velazquez, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio hand out "go bags" at an event addressing emergency preparedness at the Alfred Smith houses in lower Manhattan on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A $100 million flood protection system will help keep Sandy-like stormwaters from devastating lower Manhattan, the de Blasio administration said Thursday.

The U-shaped shield -- stretching from Montgomery Street in the Lower East Side to the northernmost part of Battery Park City -- could include both deployable flood walls and permanent levees, such as berms, integrated with parkland, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an afternoon news conference.

"It's our responsibility to do the big work of resiliency -- of protecting whole communities," de Blasio said in a flood-prone neighborhood in the Lower East Side, where he attended a "Preparedness Fair" sponsored by the city's disaster-management agency.

The mayor's office said the announcement was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

"We learned some painful lessons from Katrina. We learned some painful lessons from Sandy. We're trying do something about those lessons," de Blasio said.

The city is planning to begin soliciting proposals next month, with the project aimed to be completed in five to seven years, said mayoral spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.

Planners are considering deployable flood walls to be stored in the ground, to be raised shortly before a storm is forecast to strike, and parkland built on a hill, according to the mayor's top flood-resistance official, Dan Zarrilli, director of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

"We're trying not to wall ourselves off from the waterfront, and want to make sure that we can continue to access the waterfront, but be able to provide that flood protection when needed," Zarrilli told reporters. He added: "Just elevating the land in order to keep the river from getting into the neighborhoods is really what this is about."

Zarrilli said it was too early in the planning process to itemize how the $100 million, of capital budget dollars, would be spent.

The city will be seeking up to $500 million from the federal government to use on similar measures, "potentially sextupling" the scope of the project, the de Blasio administration said in a news release.

Battening down lower Manhattan's resiliency hatches is just one way that New York City is seeking to protect storm-prone communities, part of a $20 billion resiliency plan: There are similar projects in Red Hook, Jamaica Bay, Coney Island, Staten Island and beyond.

In 2013, the mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg set forth 257 rebuilding and resiliency projects to be completed within 10 years. Four months into the de Blasio administration, the mayor's staff reported that most of the projects were in progress, several had been completed, and more have been added.


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