USA: Senators Outline First Phase of Katrina-Style Protection Plan
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand outlined the first phase of a proposed plan to help protect devastated coastal communities in New York from future storms.
In a meeting with top officials from the Army Corps of Engineers, Schumer and Gillibrand laid out a series of projects, already authorized by Congress, that can and should be started quickly. These projects, outlined below, have all been federally authorized. Some need to be expanded, some need to be rebuilt, and some need to be jumpstarted – but all of them can be started quickly, while long term infrastructure changes are evaluated.
The senators said these projects should be part of a comprehensive plan modeled on the post-Katrina Army Corps plan known as the “Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction System.” Schumer and Gillibrand said that New York’s coastal infrastructure – beaches, dunes, and floodwalls – are critical to protecting future storm surge flooding from hurricanes and he would seek immediate authority and funding for these projects.
“These seven projects have been approved by Congress, are ready to be started or re-built, and should be the first phase of a comprehensive, Katrina-style protection plan for New York’s coasts,” said Schumer. “They will offer significant protection while our longer term infrastructure needs are evaluated. This is ready roadmap for storm- and flood-protection for New York that we can implement in the very near future that is affordable and based on the Army Corps successful actions after Katrina.”
“The Army Corps must immediately begin to execute these federally-approved projects to protect New York’s coastal communities and rebuild stronger,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that we act quickly and responsibly to launch a roadmap for future storm and flood protection for New York and to ensure that existing federal infrastructure plans spanning from Staten Island to Coney Island to Long Island are put into place.”
Under the Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act (FFCE), the Corps has emergency authority to fight floods and repair damaged flood-control projects. Using this authority, Congress provides supplemental funding for the Corps to re-build existing structures and defenses and to build new projects to protect areas vulnerable to flooding. In many instances, especially after Katrina, Congress provided the Corps with billions in funding and additional flexibility to modify existing projects that need to be built to a higher standard for additional protection; accelerate stalled projects that were authorized but never built; and start broad, new storm-protection studies.
After Katrina, the Corps used this authority, and additional funding provided through Congress, to jumpstart projects to protect Louisiana and the surrounding states. Known as the “Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction System,” the Corps has largely re-built and fortified all of the dunes, levees, floodwalls, pump stations and surge barriers that form the 133-mile Greater New Orleans perimeter system – at a cost of $14 billion. Using flexible authority known as “accelerate to completion,” the Corps was tasked by Congress to build out this infrastructure, mostly at full federal expense. In their meeting with the Corps, Schumer and Gillibrand also requested an updated damage assessment and estimated costs for repairs and construction within the next 10 days.
Press Release, November 16, 2012