2013-03-29 / Top Stories

City Workshop Gives Locals Say In How To Rebuild

By Miriam Rosenberg

Architect Eric C. Y. Fang (left), explains possibile ways to protect the ocean and bay side of the Rockaways. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Architect Eric C. Y. Fang (left), explains possibile ways to protect the ocean and bay side of the Rockaways. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg How do we rebuild a safer Rockaway post-Sandy? That was the question put to local residents at a meeting held at PS 43 in Far Rockaway on Monday, March18th.

Believing that those who live in the area know the most about it, New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) held a workshop this week to get residents’ ideas on how to make the community more resilient in preparation of future storms.

Mark Ricks, of SIRR, explained the three goals of the Initiative – “to figure out what happened and why; what could happen in the future and how do we rebuild post-Sandy and for the future both locally and citywide.”

The overriding goal, said Ricks, is to promote life safety, and safety was on the minds of Rockawayites.

On an evening that saw March snow falling in the Rockaways, the well attended workshop gave the SIRR representatives a number of ideas for the rebuilding process.

After a short presentation from SIRR, locals broke up into groups and debated the necessities needed to keep Rockaway safe. Flooding and drainage were big issues.

One woman, who lives in the Beach 60s, talked about flooding problems even before Sandy.

“We get a little rain [or high tide] and it always floods,” she said. “Sometimes you can’t come out of the house.”

In the Deerfield Road area, near Beach 25 and Beach 26 Street, flooding and drainage were also an issue. Architect Eric C. Y. Fang, an Associate Principal at EE&K a Perkins Eastman company, sat down with several groups to explain what can be done here in Rockaway.

He said that such things as break-waters, to protect the shore from high waves, could be put on the bay side of the peninsula. There is also the possibility of wetland construction. On the ocean side a better dune system and levies were also discussed.

Other ideas from residents heard during the evening were a seawall from one end of the peninsula to the others and the need for groins or jetties along the entire beach.

Prior to the workshop part of the evening, SIRR reps talked about the uniqueness of the October storm. Sandy’s wind gusts were three times the size of Hurricane Katrina. Sandy produced wind gusts that extended 1,000 miles from the eye of the storm. Katrina’s wind gusts extended 300 miles from the eye. Instead of taking a traditional eastward path Sandy took an unusual “westward hook.” This jet stream was caused by arctic air coming from Northern Canada and low pressure from the southeast U.S. In terms of high water events Sandy’s water surge eclipsed the previous record set in 1960 by Hurricane Donna. The water surge at that time in Battery Park in lower Manhattan was approximately 10 feet. Sandy’s surge was close to 14 feet. In Rockaway, on the ocean side, the shorelines were exposed to direct wave action. On the Bay side, those communities experienced wave levels up to 18 feet and flooding because of direct wave action in the Rockaway Inlet.

The Monday meeting was one of 10 held in areas hit hard by Sandy. Two have been held in Rockaway and one in Howard Beach (which also included Broad Channel) Lolita Jackson of SIRR said the agency will report back to the community all the information that was gathered at the meeting.

“You will be able to access the feedback that you heard here today in some format, that’s why we asked for your email to let you know when the website is up and running,” said Jackson.

Many residents did not believe that the two hours the meeting ran was enough time to spend talking about Rockaway’s rebuilding. Also, despite questions from attendees for a date for a follow up meeting or what happens after the emails about this meeting are sent, Jackson would only say that, “As I said, we’re holding these meetings across the city so we are in the process of finishing the rest of the plan as far as being able to get back to you to come back and finish this.”

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