Funding Made Available for Community Reconstruction in the New York area

By Donna Conneely

In response to Hurricane Sandy and other recent devastating flood events, the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program (NYRCRP) has made available funding for impacted communities in the New York area. The program is intended to offer reconstruction and revitalization assistance to communities that were affected by Hurricanes Sandy, Irene, and Lee. Current funding limit is set at $25 million per approved project, with an overall budget of about $650 million for planning and implementation.

In order to receive funding from the NYRCRP, each community was required to form a planning committee that evaluated the damages from the storms, determined areas of future risk, and sorted through proposed improvements to select the plan best suited to protecting and repairing the community. The grant amounts range between $3 million to $25 million. The NYRCRP also works with the local planning committees to identify other funding sources to supplement the federal funding.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmTgZCNuu_s?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Lessons learned from past storm recovery projects indicated that “bottom-up” planning would be most effective for future projects, so emphasis was placed on community participation. Ordinary community members have been encouraged to participate in the process by attending the meetings.

There are five regions that are eligible:

  1. Capital Region/North Country/Mohawk Valley
  2. Catskills/Hudson Valley
  3. Long Island
  4. New York City
  5. Southern Tier/Central New York

Each of these regions has many different community plans, with a total of more than 102 localities. The region of Long Island, for example, has more than 20 different plans that have been approved. In this posting, we will take a look at two of the plans that have been proposed for the Long Island district.

In the community of East Rockaway, which has been repeatedly flooded over the years, there are many homes that had to be abandoned during Superstorm Sandy. Many of these homes remain empty to this day, having been badly damaged by the storm. The exact number of derelict homes is not public information due to privacy laws, but it is a substantial number. This community has decided on the following plans to protect themselves from future flooding:

  1. Construction of a large flood barrier, a dike, around the entire sewer treatment plant to provide protection against the ‘500-year storm' events and to account for anticipated sea level rise.
  2. Elevating and hardening the Electrical Plant Distribution System and repairing existing generators to take the plant off of temporary power.
  3. Elevating as many as 57 pump stations that serve one million residents to protect from floods.

The community of West Islip was also hit hard by recent storms. With a large area that faces the bay and ocean, it takes a beating with every storm, but hurricanes are particularly dreadful. Low elevation, lack of natural flood barriers, and oceanfront exposure all combine to make this community very vulnerable. Some of the plans proposed for this community include:

  1. Funding of incentive grants or low-interest loans for residents in risk areas to build resiliency into their homes, e.g., raising home elevations, improving flood barriers, and installation of wind-resistant windows for a more storm-proof home.
  2. Restoring and nurturing natural flood barriers such as marshes, dunes, and wetlands.
  3. Protection and restoration of barrier islands.

The many plans proposed for NYRCRP funding will go all long way to repairing these battered communities, and will help protect critical infrastructure not only from future storms, but from rising sea levels. Both of these threats must be addressed in order to mitigate or prevent future disasters in these vulnerable communities. More information may be found on the NYRCRP site:

http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/ community-reconstruction-program

Source:: http://www.floodbarrierusa.com/

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