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New York’s Fight Against Climate Change: Staten’s Island Seawall

By 2025, New York’s Staten Island will be surrounded by a towering seawall running 5.3 miles along the coast, designed to fight off rising sea levels.

According to CNN, climate change is predicted to create a more powerful weather system all over the world, and coastal engineers are racing to respond with structures to reduce their impact. 

Image result for staten island seawall
Where the seawall will be located | Photo courtesy of Vox

The 5.3-mile seawall will connect Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach, one of the neighbourhoods that were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. When Sandy hit New York City in 2012, the neighbourhoods closest to the seawall were severely damaged, destroying homes and killing 24 Staten Island residents, according to Curbed New York. 

“The project is designed to reduce the risk of flooding and damage from severe storms such as hurricanes and other weather events that involve tidal surges. Specifically, the project is designed to function under a storm producing water levels of a 300-year flood event (a storm with a 0.3 percent chance of occurring in any given year),” Frank Verga, the United States Army Corps of Engineers or USACE project manager, says via email through Curbed New York. “It provides a complete solution incorporating project features to address flooding not only due to coastal storm surge but also due to precipitation.”

Despite the USACE’s extensive research, sea levels continue to rise at an increasing rate, according to the National Ocean Service.

 Seawalls are also not only expensive to install, but in need of regular maintenance if they are to stand the lengthy bombardment of hammering waves. According to the Center for Climate Integrity, it was estimated that to protect coastal communities, it would cost the US more than $400 billion over the next 20 years. 

Plan for seawall | Photo courtesy of dnainfo

These proposals range in cost from $15 billion to $118 billion, according to Curbed New York.

“We are going to build it because we have no choice,” Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City said to the New York Magazine. “This country has wasted too many years pretending it had the luxury of debating climate change. The national emergency is already here. We have to meet it head-on,” 

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