Hoboken, N.J.: Sandy's storm surge flooded downtown and cut off power. Staten island: At least 17 residents drowned despite protective levees. Manhattan: Superstorm Sandy engulfed streets and filled subway tunnels. Brooklyn: Raging water ruined buildings and sparked devastating fires.
Hoboken, N.J.: Sandy's storm surge flooded downtown and cut off power.
Staten island: At least 17 residents drowned despite protective levees.
Manhattan: Superstorm Sandy engulfed streets and filled subway tunnels.
Brooklyn: Raging water ruined buildings and sparked devastating fires.Image: COURTESY OF NASA VISIBLE EARTH (satellite image); GETTY IMAGES (man in water, Hoboken); CHRISTOS PATHIAKIS Getty Images (cars in flooded street); BEBETO MATTHEWS AP Photo (Manhattan Bridge); VICTOR J. BLUE Getty Images (raft)
- The chances of severe flooding in New York City will be as high as one in two each year by 2100, in part because the U.S. East Coast is a hotspot for sea-level rise.
- Experts may be reluctant to recommend the ultimate protection measures for New York City: building massive barriers that would cost billions of dollars and moving communities out of the lowest-lying areas.
- The primary way to protect long coastlines between cities is to pile sand along beaches every five to 10 years, but it is unclear whether enough quality sand deposits exist offshore.
- Ending federal subsidies for flood insurance, so that beachfront residents must pay the full cost, might encourage people to move out of vulnerable areas.
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Thomas Abdallah has seen a lot of water in his 26 years of work for New York City's transit system. In December 1992 a nor'easter storm killed the subway's power, forcing rescue crews to evacuate passengers from flooding tunnels. In August 2007 a five-inch deluge that meteorologists called an “extreme climate event” shut down the system again. So did Hurricane Irene in August 2011. Then came Hurricane Sandy.
As Sandy's storm surge began to flood downtown Manhattan last October, dozens of New York City transit workers scrambled in the wind and rain to place plywood sheets and sandbags across subway entrances. But the oncoming water pushed right through the feeble barricades, pouring down stairwells until underground stations filled chest deep, in turn filling seven long train tunnels running under the rivers between the boroughs. Huge pumps in more than 300 man-made caverns deep below the city's subway line, which can push out 18 million gallons of water a day, couldn't possibly keep up.
This article was originally published with the title Storm of the Century Every Two Years.