MISE & Agrave; DAY
New York, an urban giant surrounded by water and threatened by climate change, is protecting itself behind a gigantic anti-flood wall, hoping to avoid the disasters of the last ten years.
Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Storms Ida and Henry this summer left tens of people dead and billions of dollars in damage to America's largest city. With its particular geography, the “big apple” is extremely vulnerable to the elements and has ended up adopting in recent years a titanic plan called “climate resilience” costed at 20 billion dollars.
It must be said that experts fear a rise in water levels of 20 to 75 cm by 2050 that would threaten New York with submersion, in particular the island of Manhattan, framed by the Atlantic Ocean, the East River and the Hudson River. & nbsp ;
In total, the megalopolis of more than 8.5 million inhabitants has 836 km of coastline.
Site of 1.45 billion dollars
In southeast Manhattan, work has started for a budget of 1.45 billion dollars to erect a wall and dikes against the floods. & Nbsp;
On the construction site, wedged between the 'East River and the expressway that runs along it, Tom Foley, director of the design and construction department of New York City, told AFP that he also planned to “raise the park in this area” at the edge water, home to some 110,000 New Yorkers.
Over four kilometers, the green space will be completely raised by three meters and the erection of an anti-flood wall should prevent the catastrophic damage caused by the latest hurricanes and storms that form above the Atlantic.
Ahmed Ibrahim, works supervisor, shows on site the installation of “pylons which serve as deep foundations” and “metal walls which will form an underground separation wall to protect us from flooding” .
The electric shock Sandy
The awareness of the New York authorities dates from October 2012 after the electroshock of Hurricane Sandy which had caused the death of at least 44 people, damages of 19 billion dollars and the absence of electricity during weeks, recalls Sara Nielsen, director of park planning in New York.
In this hyper-dense area of southeast Manhattan, the water had risen to a record high of 2.7 meters above sea level.
For Sara Nielsen, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, “Sandy was the first disaster that accelerated our approach to climate change.” The expert is pleased that today the city, with its sometimes dilapidated infrastructure, has “very important projects to protect New Yorkers”.
The city “is investing more than $ 20 billion (in a multi-year plan of) + climate resilience + with a multi-level strategy for the protection of our coastline”, explains to AFP Jainey Bavishi, director of the mayor's office of New York for “climate resilience.”
Not really a tree-lined city – except for the giant green lung of Central Park – Manhattan goes also replant thousands of trees of different species around the site and improve underground sewerage, sewage and electricity networks.
Town planners are also looking to improve habitat, one of New York's Achilles heels, especially because of the number of basement dwellings exposed to flooding and the poor quality of construction and thermal and sound insulation. housing.
“There are a million buildings in New York City. We are modernizing them wherever possible ”, assures Jainey Bavishi, praising“ one of the most resilient building codes in the world ”.
Still, the flood wall project does not please to everybody. Local residents' associations are contesting it in court and the site should not be completed before 2026.
Terry, a resident of the neighborhood who refuses to give his surname, recognizes that it is “a good idea” but regrets that “things are moving slowly”.
For Jainey Bavishi, New York and its “climate resilience” program can be part of the environmental component of President Joe Biden's 1,200 billion plan, voted in Congress, to invest heavily in infrastructure in the United States.