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November 1, 2012 2:06 PM   Subscribe

In 2009, the Dutch television network RTL reported on a proposal to build a Dutch-style floodwall across the Narrows at the mouth of New York harbor (SLYT), complete with an animation of what it was designed to protect against: flooding of 4 meters into Manhattan & the surrounding areas. This uncannily resembles what transpired this Monday.
posted by akgerber (34 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's all Dutch to me.
posted by tittergrrl at 2:16 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Narrows is around 1500 meters wide, judging from the Verrazano Bridge, which is 1,298 meters in its largest span, both towers of which are in water. In contrast, the Thames Flood Barrier is across a 570 meter stretch of water, while the massive Oosterscheldekering in the Netherlands is a whopping nine km (or three; I've found conflicting info online). So it would be the second-largest in the world, but doable.

Of course, we know now that government is worthless and there's no point in having big projects like this, because people are harmed by welfare-state coddling like disaster recovery and disaster prevention. All they really need is a couple of cans of condensed soup, and quitcherbitchin, where's your self-reliance? If you don't like the weather, move to a red state.
posted by Fnarf at 2:27 PM on November 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


Those who believe that climate change will continue to endanger Lower Manhattan might see the value in this. Their opponents need speak only one word to keep the plan from being realized: it is "European."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:28 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would be before this was proposed.
posted by fshgrl at 2:29 PM on November 1, 2012


Since "socialism" ceases to be "socialism" when it involves rescuing Wall Street, there are chances this will actually get through.
posted by Skeptic at 2:33 PM on November 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Barn door, meet cows.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:37 PM on November 1, 2012


But how well would that work anyway? A floodwall across the Narrows wouldn't shut off the water from about Staten island or through the East sound.
posted by Jehan at 2:39 PM on November 1, 2012


Also, the Narrows is much deeper than further out, such as between Sandy Hook and Rockaway Point.
posted by Jehan at 2:43 PM on November 1, 2012


From the video:
Would larger scale mitigation actions make sense? We're probably not sure yet. But there may be actions that are more cost effective that can help prevent significant amounts of damage, however, that would be worth undertaking.
- But no dykes yet?
- No Dykes yet.
And there we have it. Let's be honest with each other. Here in America, there's no political will to do things (especially expensive things) that look further out than the next election cycle. What's that? Insurance for your giant frickin almost-underwater, or actually below sea level, city that's in a hurricane zone? NOT WORTH IT.
posted by Phredward at 2:49 PM on November 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


If Sandy really was a 100-year event, maybe it is too little to late.

I don't know if I'd want to bet against future storm events however.
posted by bonehead at 2:52 PM on November 1, 2012


The Narrows is around 1500 meters wide, judging from the Verrazano Bridge, which is 1,298 meters in its largest span, both towers of which are in water.

They quote in the video a figure of 1600 meters, so close enough.

Now, if I heard that right, I believe that they said bridging the Narrows like this would cost on the order of six billion Euros. Anybody got the early estimates on how much damage Sandy has done to Manhattan so far?
posted by fifthrider at 2:56 PM on November 1, 2012


I think initial estimates were in the $10-$20B range, but I saw a $50B estimate while CNN was on the waiting room TV today.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:00 PM on November 1, 2012


Maybe the dutch will build it cheaper if they re-rename New York to New Amsterdam?
posted by Pendragon at 3:00 PM on November 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Pendragon: "Maybe the dutch will build it cheaper if they re-rename New York to New Amsterdam?"

But people just like it better this way.
posted by Pinback at 3:12 PM on November 1, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's not as if other cities in the region haven't already taken steps to protect themselves.

New Bedford, Massachusetts has a 3.5mi long hurricane barrier. Providence, Rhode Island has a much smaller 3,000 foot barrier. Both were constructed in response to the devastating flooding caused by the 1938 Hurricane and Hurricane Carol in 1957. Like New York City, both Providence and New Bedford are located along narrowing tidal inlets which create a funneling effect that greatly amplifies storm surges.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:20 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


A bipartisan solution would be to purchase barriers as naval units and rebrand them as Stationary Naval Anti-Flooding Units. Easy naval tonnage increase and modernization. They can be painted gray, repeatedly.
posted by Free word order! at 3:37 PM on November 1, 2012 [15 favorites]


I have seen the Oosterscheldekering and it is an amazing project. The great north sea flood was in 1953 and the Dutch committed to build the thing and it was finished in 1986. Basically it is their moon shot. If you go there be sure to visit the museum which has a model of the hydrodynamics of the protected area. The Dutch are fabulous at building models.
posted by bukvich at 3:49 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm all for it. New York isn't particularly afraid of "European" ideas. Worst case scenario we can just pretend we invented it. We probably should figure out how to make it the biggest in the world though because America!
posted by Ad hominem at 4:34 PM on November 1, 2012


> we know now that government is worthless and there's no point in having
> big projects like this, because people are harmed by welfare-state coddling

Just goes to show we need Private Industry to build the barriers, and
Private Militias to line up and make sure those Private Ships pay their Private Fees.

Fortunately Private Money is going to make sure this happens.

It's' possible. Kurt Gödel said so.
posted by hank at 4:45 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since "socialism" ceases to be "socialism" when it involves rescuing Wall Street, there are chances this will actually get through.

"Wall Street" doesn't have to be anywhere... the trading floor is an anachronism, see Cantor-Fitzgerald.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:47 PM on November 1, 2012


It's' possible. Kurt Gödel said so.

What a delightful story. It humanizes three great thinkers.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:58 PM on November 1, 2012


I'm curious to know what it was they proposed to do with all the water coming in from the north from the Hudson River.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:25 PM on November 1, 2012


I wonder if a project this scale is possible anymore given the engineering complexities and environmental impact assessments. We might just have to move folks to higher ground.
posted by humanfont at 5:39 PM on November 1, 2012


The problem with "moving folks to higher ground" is that too many important parts of the city are in lower ground. There's no way to move the subway system to higher ground, for instance. And as sea level rises in coming decades, the problem is going to get worse, not better, and Sandies and worse are going to become more and more common. If this devastation becomes a yearly or even once-a-decade event, "moving to higher ground" becomes laughably inadequate. This is just reality; something needs to be done to keep the water out.

Unfortunately, even though this is a national-level problem, there is no possible way for national action to be taken because the federal government is being held hostage by kooks who (a) don't believe in global warming (b) don't like spending that doesn't benefit them personally (c) don't like New York City on general principles and (d) don't care if they destroy the United States in the process of...whatever it is they think they're doing (preparing for Jesus?). Think the House or Senate is even going to consider spending even $100 on saving New York from flood surges? Uh-uh. Even today, a House resolution stating nothing more serious than "New York City is important to the future of this country" with no money attached would probably fail. Even if sane Democrats control both houses, they're too cowardly to stand up to the "Superminority".
posted by Fnarf at 5:56 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle -- the harbor can be turned into a fresh water lake, just like the IJsselmeer. Perhaps our new Zuiderzee-Works can create a sixth borough similar to the Flevoland.
posted by autopilot at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that waaaaaaaay
posted by the painkiller at 6:08 PM on November 1, 2012


New York isn't particularly afraid of "European" ideas.

North American taxpayers are deathly, deeply, profoundly, fearfully afraid of paying "European" style taxes for long-overdue necessary infrastructure projects.
posted by ovvl at 8:06 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Insurance and Finance will make this happen.
posted by effugas at 8:11 PM on November 1, 2012


Since "socialism" ceases to be "socialism" when it involves rescuing Wall Street, there are chances this will actually get through

This time, much of Wall Street was mostly safe as it was built on higher schist and not landfill.

I get your point though, since all the people in The Rockaways and Breezy point are all part of "wall street".

I sure hope wherever you are from is never flooded.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:38 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, I will point out that this is NYC, pretty much the heart of Blue America as far as that goes, and firmly in the hands of a Governor who just pretty much said something needs to happen. I actually think the combination of local leadership, support from the obviously affected top 1% of the business community, and political backing from the DOT (under whom this probably mostly falls), could make this happen.

The problem is that local cooperation was needed for the most recently up-for-grabs megaproject, the Access to the Region's Core^ pax rail expansion. It's in the same numerical ballpark ($10B, give or take a few B) and was sailing through until a certain Gov. Christie pulled his support at seemingly the last minute. Now the Gateway Project^ seeks to replace some of that functionality using a more federal funding model.

The natural agency for a floodgate would be the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and as the name implies the Governors of both state sorta need to be on board. If Christie's newfound cooperative mood lasts, maybe this could get started, at least in terms of having some real engineering feasibility studies.

Blodget published the slideshow of that study the Dutch video mentioned. Clearly it may need to be supplemented by similar works at, say, Perth Amboy and Throg's Neck to fully protect NY harbor, and there will be no protection offered for the seacoast areas of Long Island and Staten Island.

It's also possible that the subways and other tunnels could have their flood resistance increased -- flood doors, for example, and better built-in pumping capability. Certainly that was what a number of Chicago businesses found necessary after the infamous Loop flood. I think the NYFD might prove to be an important ally in building up flood resistance on private property, just as it has enhanced the code requirements following the WTC bombing and 9/11. For instance it sounds like the basically sea-level Goldman Sachs tower in Jersey City survived by doing a good job closing off its ground-floor entryways. Build in that sort of hurricane barrier as code for new structures and you would reduce the overall vulnerability over time.
posted by dhartung at 12:18 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


the massive Oosterscheldekering in the Netherlands is a whopping nine km (or three; I've found conflicting info online).

Nine kilometres is the total length of the barrier, between Noord Beveland en Schouwen Duiveland. Three kilometres is the length of the actual sluice gates, the technically brilliant bit; the rest is all boring old non-moving dams and/or artificial islands (Neeltje Jans).

It will never catch on in the States, as not only is it socialism, all the cool stuff was actually created out of ecological concerns, viz that closing the Oosterschelde would destroy the wildlife in it, as had already happened in the other closed off sea arms. There was a huge political campaign against the dam and the sluice gates were the usual Dutch compromise expressed in concrete, between those who opted for safety and those more concerned with the environment.

it was finished in 1986

I was at the opening (closing) of it. Each primary school in Zeeland got to sent two students and I was one of the two lucky ones. Got to shake the hands of the then president of France, Mitterrand.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:57 AM on November 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I sure hope wherever you are from is never flooded.
posted by Ad hominem


Eponysterical!

I've actually owned and lived in an apartment located below sea level and protected by just those Dutch flood protection measures. And I actually have friends in New York, so I quite sympathise with them and expect that, indeed, something is done to prevent a repeat of this flooding (repeat that is all too likely with global warming).

My flippant sentence, however, reflected an optimism that, given the concentration of wealth and power in Lower Manhattan, there are better chances of the powers-that-be having a sudden conversion to Rooseveltian large public works projects on behalf of that area than, say, on behalf of New Orleans, never mind Bangladesh...
posted by Skeptic at 3:33 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know, I've just gotten a bit hypersensitive to some of the schadenfreude about the destruction on the Internet and the notion that all of New York is Wall Street. I appologize
posted by Ad hominem at 4:03 AM on November 2, 2012


North American taxpayers are deathly, deeply, profoundly, fearfully afraid of paying "European" style taxes for long-overdue necessary infrastructure projects.

Retire three carrier groups and half of our boomers, and you would be utterly shocked at what we can afford without raising taxes one red cent.

Of course, this means that the U.S. Navy will go from being the largest and best equipped navy in the world to the MUCH CHEAPER largest and best equipped navy in the world.

(Derail time - in 1917 the Coast Guard had 44 cutters in service, and a cutter is by definition a fighting ship capable of coastal defense. Today, they have 325 cutters, including fun stuff like missile frigates... so the Navy doesn't need as many ships to guard U.S. coastal waters. In terms of fighting tonnage afloat, the USA is vastly more equipped now than then. So, more proof Romney lies easier than breathing.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:34 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


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