New project will help shield part of NYC devastated by Superstorm Sandy

The project calls for demolishing what is currently along the shoreline in order to raise the land high enough to protect the neighborhood behind it from future storm surge. A new park will then be built on top of the raised area.

Video Transcript

- Flooding in lower Manhattan, never as bad as it was during Superstorm Sandy. That's in 2012. Remember? Well, today New York Mayor de Blasio announcing the city is ready to begin a nearly $1 and 1/2 billion project designed to alleviate flooding on the Lower East Side, or at least try. So how big a deal is this really? We're going to bring in chief meteorologist Lee Goldberg researching years of flooding, and in relation to climate change. Lee, how big a deal is this?

LEE GOLDBERG: Well, Bill, last summer we dedicated an entire 30 minute special to the risk that rising sea levels and coastal flooding pose to Manhattan, and particularly the Lower East Side. Well today, the mayor announced the start of construction on the much anticipated and much debated East side coastal resiliency project.

BILL DE BLASIO: The East Side Resiliency Project, it's one of the biggest in the nation. It will protect so many people in one of the most densely populated areas of the nation. And we have learned through experience that we have to get ahead of this challenge and invest now.

LEE GOLDBERG: And to that end, the city will elevate park land stretching 2.4 miles from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side to East 24th Street. More than 100,000 people live in this area, which was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

During Sandy, flooding in the East Village stretched to around Avenue B. But the floodplain of the 2070s and 2080s could reach First Avenue around here and Second Avenue a little farther North. Last summer, I reported extensively on the Resiliency Project, which calls for demolishing what is currently along the shoreline in order to raise the land high enough to protect the neighborhood behind it from future storm surge. A new park will then be built on top of the raised area. I found some local residents were upset that park land would be closed during construction and some trees and wildlife would be lost. But most understood the importance of the project.

NANCY ORTIZ: A lot of people don't want is the park to close. And I say three years, five years is a small amount to give up to have 100 years of protection. We have to figure it out. And it can't be about trees, or it's about plants, or it's about a park, or it's about baseball. All those things, we can get back. We can't get back our homes.

LEE GOLDBERG: Exciting to see this get under way. As of right now, the completion date for the project is 2025. Coastal flooding is just one of the topics the ABC meteorologists and National Geographic will tackle during an hour long special, "Our America, Climate Of Hope". It'll be available on your streaming app starting tomorrow morning. And you can watch the special right here on channel seven this Saturday at 1 o'clock. I hope you watch or DVR it.

This is a unique take, Bill and Lauren, in that they speak to our meteorologists across the country whose literally job descriptions have changed because of the different ways we have to forecast now with so many worst case scenarios verifying. So I hope you get a chance to take a look. Guys, back to you.

- Oh, an important project and a very important special as well. Lee, thank you for that. Glad you're participating in it. Still--