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Hurricane Sandy prompts New York to consider tougher flood protection codes

Hurricane Sandy prompts New York to consider tougher flood protection codes

Lynne Simnick | December 5, 2012

Damage from Hurricane Sandy has New York City officials and real estate developers reviewing building codes. As they ponder a devastated landscape from the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan to the Rockaways in Queens to Midland Beach on Staten Island, new flood protections for all building types suddenly seem inevitable, whether voluntary or mandated by new laws.

Mayor Michael Bloombergconvened a new building resiliency task force to study potential changes in the building code and to make recommendations by the summer. The city will likely require retrofits to reinforce existing structures and more flood proofing for new projects.

Yet some builders say they have every incentive not to wait for government mandates and have taken some steps on their own. The design of Sims Metal Management’srecycling plant at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, for example, elevated portions of the site to heights exceeding city requirements by four feet. Using recycled glass and crushed rock, they raised the foundation for the plant’s four buildings and a dock.

The fill added $550,000 to the plant’s costs of around $100 million, but it proved its worth when a 12-foot storm surge swept through nearby streets and parking lots on Oct. 29. But the plant’s dock and partly completed buildings did not flood.


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