Should New York build a storm surge barrier?

New York Harbor, Manhattan

SARAH FECHT / STATE OF THE PLANET – It’s been seven years since Superstorm Sandy brought the city that never sleeps to a grinding halt. High tide and storm surge — the pile of water that built up in front of Sandy as she moved up the coast — combined to bury lower Manhattan under 13 feet of water. Across the five boroughs, subways, highways, and parking garages flooded; homes and businesses were destroyed, and 53 people died. It is estimated that Sandy caused $19 billion in economic damages in New York City alone.

The Superstorm Sandy anniversary also marks seven years since New York started talking about building storm surge barriers to protect itself from future storms. At a recent event hosted by Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Earth Institute, experts discussed a study that is evaluating the feasibility of building storm surge barriers around New York and New Jersey. The panelists also debated whether such a measure is a good idea …

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