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Flood and thunder: Corps’s storm-barrier proposal gets jeers for long timeline

Not happy: Manhattan Beach resident Anna Kader argues with officials about the Army Corp of Engineer’s plan for storm resiliency at a meeting on Oct. 5.
Brooklyn Daily
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It was a stormy affair.

Southern Brooklynites lashed out at state and federal officials last Wednesday night, charging that a proposed $3.8-billion coastal storm barrier project has taken too long to get off the ground. The Army Corps of Engineers presented a study to build a flood wall along coastal Brooklyn to keep out storm surges, but funding is up in the air, and even if there is enough money floating around, the work won’t be complete until at least 2024, officials said.

Locals are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and it should not take more than a decade to shore up the coast, critics said.

“Anyone that experienced Sandy — there’s a lot of anxiety any time the wind starts changing,” said Community Board 15 member Al Smaldone. “It’s very disheartening as a resident that we’re not getting any kind of satisfacti­on.”

The Corps initially only planned projects in Queens, but Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–Park Slope) got the agency to include Brooklyn in it’s plans.

The project includes a massive storm-surge barrier that will extend from Queens to Floyd Bennet Field in Marine Park, up Flatbush Avenue, and along the Belt Parkway — as well as concrete flood walls, reconstructed seawalls, sand dunes, and jetties, Army Corps plans show.

There is, however, little money to fund the effort.

The Army Corps of Engineers has $3.5 billion for Sandy recovery-related efforts, but the Brooklyn project alone would cost $3.8 billion, and even Army Corps honchos are uncertain how to pay for everything, one said.

“How much will apply to this project? I just don’t know, won’t even hazard a guess. I know there’s money out there but we don’t know how much,” said project manager Daniel Falt.

And they are funded first-come, first served — so federal cash may dry up before the Brooklyn endeavors get underway, meaning state and local agencies will have to foot the bill, according to Sue McCormick from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We realize that is one of the most difficult questions we’re going to face, and quite frankly, I don’t think we have an answer for that one yet,” she said. “[There are] a lot of environmental justice issues around this area, and we know that it’s going to take a lot of hard work to figure out that sequencing of the work. I guess that’s about all we can say right now.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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