Surge protector: City builds wall near Red Hook coastline to combat mild flooding

Surge protector: City builds wall near Red Hook coastline to combat mild flooding
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

It’s a big, beautiful barrier!

The city finished installing a four-foot wall near the Red Hook shoreline that will safeguard the nabe from mild flooding — a temporary safety measure as a permanent solution is developed, according to the head of the agency overseeing the project.

“We wanted to be responsive to the community’s concerns and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make sure Red Hook is safe,” said Jainey Bavishi, director of the mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

The wall runs along Beard Street from Van Brunt to Richards streets near Ikea and is comprised of fabric boxes filled with dirt and plants that are surrounded by chain-link fencing. It is manufactured by Hesco, which provided similar barriers to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and will keep out water from a 10-year flood, meaning a deluge that has 10-percent chance of happening in any given year.

The bastion won’t defend Red Hook from a Hurricane Sandy–level storm surge, which would bring about 10 feet of water into the neighborhood. But a barrier that shelters the area from such a storm would need to be up to 15 feet high in some places, which Bavishi said is too tall for the bustling low-lying community.

“Not everything should be — or can be — built to protect against Sandy level storms,” she said.

The stretch of Beard Street the barrier sits on is susceptible to frequent low-level flooding, according to a city study analyzing shorelines around the five boroughs. Putting the wall there also made sense because there are two high points along the thoroughfare, which are necessary to ensure the bastion’s effectiveness and make sure invading water doesn’t just flow around it.

The structure will stay up for five years as the city forms a lasting flood-prevention plan. It is preparing to invest $100 million in a permanent fix, half of which will come from the federal government upon its approval of an application for emergency management funding.

If approved, that money will go towards raising Beard Street and putting in new bulkheads at the coastal Atlantic Basin, Bavishi said.

Other steps are being taken to safeguard Red Hook from flooding, too. The New York City Housing Authority invested $440 million to protect the nabe’s Red Hook Houses from rising waters, including elevating the public housing complex’s electrical equipment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill