July 15, 2019 - 11:21 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - By 2025, New York's Staten Island will be fortified by a towering seawall running 5.3 miles along the coast, an engineering feat designed to ward off a growing threat, CNN reports.
The climate crisis is predicted to create more powerful and extreme weather systems all over the world, and coastal engineers are racing to respond with structures to reduce their impact.
The first seawalls were built centuries ago, though there are now, arguably, greater assets to protect and more people living along vulnerable coastlines than ever before.
When Hurricane Sandy smashed into the US East Coast in 2012, Staten Island was overwhelmed by massive waves that swept away properties and killed 24 of the dozens of people who eventually died in the storm.
With a population of almost half a million, low-lying Staten Island was no match for the waves whipped up in New York Harbor, one of which reached a record 32.5 feet high.
Seven years later, $615 million in funding has been secured for the ultimate defense -- a levee, buried seawall and vertical floodwall reaching 20 feet above sea level.
Topped with a public walkway, it's officially being called the "Staten Island Multi-Use Elevated Promenade." Graphic visualizations of the wall, released by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, show happy cyclists riding along a wooden deck near an ice-cream stand and coin-operated telescopes pointed out to sea.
The boardwalk will be big enough to host concerts, carnivals, marathons and cultural events, the governor's office says. But the new promenade's true public value will only be measured by how well it succeeds in shielding people from natural disaster.
The seawall will be built to withstand a 300-year flood event -- a water height two feet above the highest levels recorded during Hurricane Sandy, said Frank Verga, a project manager at the New York District of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).