03.17.16

SCHUMER, RANGEL, MARK-VIVERITO, SERRANO & RODRIGUEZ URGE THE ARMY CORPS TO FOCUS ON EAST HARLEM’S COASTAL PROTECTION PROJECTS IN UPCOMING FEASIBILITY REPORT FOR NY HARBOR; LAWMAKERS SAY EAST HARLEM REMAINS VULNERABLE & DOESN’T HAVE ANY ADEQUATE LONG-TERM RESILIENCY MEASURES PLANNED BY FEDS; FINAL REPORT MUST INCLUDE PROPOSED MITIGATION FOR EAST HARLEM SO COMMUNITY IS BETTER PROTECTED IN THE FUTURE

While East Harlem Was Not the Hardest Hit During Sandy, the Community Remains Vulnerable in the Event of a Future Storm

Following Superstorm Sandy, Schumer & Rangel Secured Federal Funding in Sandy-Relief Bill for a 2-Year Comprehensive Study to Identify Areas of Flood Risks Along North Atlantic Coast; Feasibility Study for Protection Projects in New York  Will Soon Be Started by Army Corps and Should Include East Harlem

Lawmakers Urge Army Corps to Make Sure the Study Focuses on and Includes Projects for East Harlem; Area Currently Does Not Have Adequate Long-Term Federally-Funded Resiliency Projects Planned; Lawmakers Say This Community Is In Desperate Need of Mitigation Measures & East Harlem Should Not Be Ignored by Army Corps

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, State Senator José M. Serrano, and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez today called on the Army Corps of Engineers to include coastal protection projects along the waterfront communities of East Harlem. After Schumer and Rangel’s push in Congress, the recently passed FY16 Appropriations bill included federal funding for a New York/New Jersey Harbor feasibility study, which will study and provide recommendations for mitigation and resiliency projects throughout the harbor.

Specifically, the study will examine Sandy-related coastal flooding, test various solutions to prevent such flooding in the future and make a final recommendation on how to best alleviate flooding in these communities. The lawmakers today urged the Army Corps to make sure the study’s final recommendation includes protection projects for East Harlem and its surrounding communities. These communities do not currently have adequate long-term federally-funded resiliency projects. The Army Corps has not yet studied a regional system of protection for East Harlem as they are doing for Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay and Staten Island’s East and South Shores and as HUD and the City are doing for Lower Manhattan.

“As a low-lying area, it’s critical that the East Harlem community is not ignored by the Army Corps as they propose mitigation projects throughout New York,” said Senator Schumer. “The need for flood protection throughout East Harlem must be recognized, and that’s why I’m urging the Army Corps to make sure this vulnerable community is included in the upcoming recommendation report.”

“I applaud Senator Schumer and Speaker Mark-Viverito for their leadership in strongly advocating for the long term safety of New Yorkers,” said Congressman Rangel. “Hurricane Sandy was a devastating wake up call to the vulnerability of our communities to natural disasters. We must build the infrastructure necessary to ensure our region weathers the next storm. The feasibility study is a crucial first step we must take to be prepared for quick response and rehabilitation.” 

“Superstorm Sandy had a devastating impact on New York City and hundreds of East Harlem residents,” said City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito. “The final NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency recognized that only a low tide in the Long Island Sound saved the neighborhood from more extensive destruction and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s preliminary flood maps show a special flood hazard area that stretches several blocks deep into East Harlem. We cannot wait for another weather emergency to develop a viable plan to keep New Yorkers safe, which is why the Council passed a comprehensive set of bills in 2013 to better prepare for future storms and emergencies. I want to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership on this issue and I urge the Army Corps of Engineers to include East Harlem in their long term resiliency plan so that residents and businesses are better protected in the future.”

“Protecting our city from the threat of a major storm should be a top priority for all New Yorkers. Much of East Harlem is situated in a flood zone and is extremely vulnerable to the tremendous damage a major storm can cause,” said State Senator Serrano. “Toward that end, we need to ensure that East Harlem is included in any future flood protection projects to help protect the people of El Barrio. I applaud my friend Senator Chuck Schumer for his advocacy and leadership on this critical issue.”

“Three-and-a-half years after Superstorm Sandy, East Harlem is no better equipped to handle the threat of hurricanes and other stronger storms,” said Assemblymember Rodriguez. “I am grateful for Senator Schumer's focus on this issue, and join him in calling for the Army Corps of Engineers to focus their long term resiliency planning efforts on our vulnerable community. I also encourage the Army Corps to review our report, A Tale of Two Rivers, and the work of CIVITAS, which detailed a community resiliency strategy, infrastructure investment, and a long-term vision to protect East Harlem from the next storm.”

The Sandy Relief Bill included $20 million for a comprehensive study to identify vulnerable coastal populations that were affected by Superstorm Sandy – from Virginia to Maine. The Army Corps’ North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study was made possible through Schumer’s efforts in the Senate to pass a disaster relief bill for New York residents. In this study, the Army Corps concluded that there were nine vulnerable focus areas that needed to be protected, one of which was New York/New Jersey Harbor. At the end of last year, Schumer secured federal funding in the Appropriations bill for a feasibility study in the New York/New Jersey Harbor. The next step is for the Army Corps to study and provide recommendations for mitigation and resiliency projects as part of the New York/New Jersey feasibility study.

Schumer, Rangel, Mark-Viverito, Serrano, and Rodriguez today called on the Army Corps to make sure East Harlem communities are included in the final recommendation report that will soon be released. The lawmakers explained that the Army Corps’ final recommendation report will include a list of proposed resiliency projects that will eventually be constructed in-and-around New York Harbor. The lawmakers went on to say that because East Harlem does not currently have adequate long-term federally-funded resiliency projects, the final report should make sure that resiliency projects are proposed for this community so that it is better protected in the event of a future storm. 

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