Could a surge-protection barrier have saved New York City from much of the flood ravages of superstorm Sandy ?
Bloomberg reports that Malcolm Bowman and other hydrologists are convinced it could have.
Bowman, an oceanographer who has spent much of a 40-year career warily watching the tidal flows in and around New York Harbor, recalls a few years back being down in the construction site of Manhattan’s South Ferry subway station.
'It was just a concrete box underground then', he said in an interview. Bowman, at the time an observer in the middle of filming a documentary, looked up a long stairway leading to blue sky and asked a construction official, 'Would you mind telling us how far above sea level is the entrance there at street level ?'
The reply was 11 feet -- an elevation designed, the official said, to withstand possible floods from a storm that occurs once in 100 years.
'I said, ‘That sounds awfully low to me and, by the way, that storm could come next week,’' said Bowman, a professor at the Marine Sciences Research Center of State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island.
It took a little longer than that. The South Ferry station, a $530m jewel in New York City’s subway system at the tip of Manhattan, opened in March 2009. Superstorm Sandy, slamming into the New York metropolitan area on the evening of October 29th, brought a record storm surge of 13.88 feet (4.2 meters) into Battery Park, which abuts South Ferry. The station flooded floor to ceiling with briny seawater, destroying equipment and turning escalator wells and tunnels into caverns deep enough to scuba dive in.
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