Troubled waters: Coney no safer since Sandy, report shows

A recent report shows that Coney Island an its surrounding neighborhoods are just as vulnerable to flooding as they were when they were devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
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The neighborhoods around Coney Island remain just as vulnerable now to catastrophic flooding as they were when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, according to a new study by the Waterfront Alliance.

Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, and parts of Gravesend are the most at-risk neighborhoods in the city to coastal flooding, with nearly 90,000 people at risk of losing their homes when another super storm slams the city. The findings are a wake-up call for city, state, and federal officials who need to get cracking before disaster strikes again, said the head of the group behind the report.

“A lot of planning and thinking about protecting the neighborhood has happened but not much doing,” said Roland Lewis, president of the Waterfront Alliance. “Time is wasting. We need to take action. The area has the short end of the stick in a lot of ways.”

The Waterfront Alliance’s released an interactive “Harbor Scorecard” measuring flood risk, water quality, and waterfront access of the city’s coastal communities. Researchers found that more than 174,000 Brooklynites have a 50 percent chance of a major flood wrecking their homes by 2060 — 80,900 of whom reside in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and Gravesend. To make matters worse, the report details that 57 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the area’s waterways in 2015 through sewer outfalls — much of which likely came from a Gravesend apartment complex that the city discovered was illegally dumping 200,000 gallons of waste per day into Coney Island Creek. And the water’s poop levels have only gone up since then.

These are the same fecal-fouled waters that will pour into residents homes and businesses when the next super storm hits. And of the 325 Brooklyn properties noted as particularly vulnerable to contamination via flooding, more than 100 are located on and near the peninsula.

It’s a sobering reminder that the authorities need to spend less time and energy studying flood mitigation plans and put more into actually constructing some protections, said one community activist.

“It’s five years since Sandy and we basically have nothing to show. Doesn’t anyone say, ‘This is ridiculous, something is wrong here?’ ” said Brighton Beacher Ida Sanoff, who is the executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association. “It’s like we go to all these public meetings, we testify, and nothing gets done. Yet the city pours money into booklets that tell us to grab our stuff and run for our lives if there’s a flood. It’s insane.”

The Economic Development Corporation spent years studying the feasibility of various ways to mitigate flooding in the area and last summer announced plans to build a natural flood barrier along Coney Island Creek, which would complement other projects for the area including a controversial plan to build a flood gate across the mouth of the creek near W. 23rd Street.

But the gate could just be another pipe dream now that the Army Corps of Engineers revealed that funds have dried up for its multi-billion-dollar coastal storm barrier project, which included the massive gate.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Posted 12:00 am, June 16, 2017
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Reader feedback

Tim says:
That's okay. Just build more skyscraper condos in Coney. That seems to be where are priorities and resources are going to.
June 16, 1:24 am
Lana from Brighton Beach says:
I'm wondering how much was spent on fancy booklets printed at least twenty times since Sandy? I am also wondering how much was spent on workshops, meetings and other resiliency related activities including ad on bus shelters and subways? They want me to know my zone, remember shelters locations, buy batteries. I got it!!!! I also would like to know how much was spent on consultants to come up with studies? Where are we know? Oops, no money left.
June 17, 10 am
Jake from Manhattan Beach says:
Building hi-rises and making the area much more dense is obviously the wrong move but hey, if you're going to live around here, renting is probably the best move you can do. Affording to be mobile in an area that is certainly going to be hit again (multiple times) as storms continue to increase in power/destruction, these neighborhoods, like many East Coast towns up and down the Seaboard will have to abandon altogether. It's actually better not to waste the money on seawalls and barriers, as they're no match for mother nature, let alone mother nature on steroids. Do what the Dutch are doing, learning to live with the water, not trying to control it.
June 19, 12:27 pm

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