Could a $15 Billion Storm-Protection System Save NYC From Another Sandy?

Sarah Bernard
Trending Now

As East Coasters still struggle to fully comprehend the damage caused by Sandy, thoughts are turning to how we can prepare for the possibility of another superstorm. It turns out the Dutch have already done some of out-of-the-box thinking that we could use to craft our own modern-day stormproofing plan.

New York City, like much of Holland, is built on low-lying land that's susceptible to the kind of surges caused by Hurricane Sandy. One Dutch solution was to make its coastline smaller wherever possible. After a devastating flood in 1916, the Dutch government built a complex system of dams, known as the Zuiderzee Works, to convert a former inlet of the North Sea into what's essentially a nice lake. Today, a coastal highway runs along the area, and the flood-control system protects a large area of the country, including Amsterdam. There hasn't been a severe flood in the region since the dams were built. In the southwestern part of the country, the Delta Works, a different system of dams and other flood-control measures, was put into place.

[Related: Sandy's Aftermath: A Look at New York's Scary Future]

Experts argue that New York and New Jersey would be able to use a similar system. Engineering aside, the real impediment to such a plan, of course, is the price tag. A seminar at NYU in 2009 projected the cost to be in the neighborhood of $15 billion, but early estimates have Sandy costing $60 billion in property damage alone. Perhaps a large investment would be worth it.

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[Related: Sandy from Above (Photos)]