Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal has expressed concern about the project’s construction. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Bellevue Hospital is in the beginning stages of a plan that aims to protect the facility from future Hurricane Sandys and released an environmental assessment on the project at the beginning of July. The document is the first the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), Bellevue’s parent organization, has released concerning the project and outlines the most viable alternative, a comprehensive mitigation system, which consists of a “perimeter boundary protection system” or flood wall around the hospital center. It will include a series of connected permanent and removable walls and integrated flood gates, as well as new elevators, a secondary domestic water pumping system, relocation of the HVAC equipment to above the 500-year flood plain and other features.
Other alternatives that were discussed in the document but that were ultimately dismissed include relocation of the hospital center or just a flood wall with no other changes. Relocation is not being considered because HHC does not think it practical to abandon the infrastructure investments that have been made on the existing site. The second alternative has been dismissed because while it is expected to provide similar flood protection to the wall in the selected plan, HHC wanted to incorporate a “Multiple Lines of Defense” strategy.
Bellevue Hospital Center will get a $376 million slice of federal money to cover the cost of putting right damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced last Thursday that the city has secured $1.6 billion in federal aid from FEMA to repair the city’s public hospitals damaged during Hurricane Sandy two years ago.
With its share of the cash, Bellevue will install flood-proof elevators, storm pumps and a flood wall.
“The entire New York Congressional Delegation came together to fight for these funds, and wisely sought resources not just for repairs, but also for mitigation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, in whose district the hospital is located.
“Bellevue is an important facility and it sustained substantial damage and had to be evacuated during Hurricane Sandy. We are taking the necessary steps to be sure that doesn’t happen again.”
According to Bellevue authorities, much of the damage caused by the 2012 superstorm has already been repaired and the fresh FEMA funds will reimburse HHC for those repairs and mitigation work.
Many pieces of critical equipment, such as electrical switching gear, have been relocated out of the basement to higher elevation on the first floor and the hospital has installed removable flood barriers at the two loading dock entrances facing the East River.
NYU Langone Medical Center’s main campus at 550 First Avenue (Photo courtesy of NYU Langone)
By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer announced $1.13 billion in FEMA funding for Sandy repair work and mitigation projects at NYU Langone Medical Center.
The $1.13 billion is the total project cost, 90 percent of which will be covered by the federal government. Of that, $540 million is for permanent repairs and restoration for damaged elements of a variety of NYU Langone buildings, and $589 million will go towards mitigation work to protect against future storms. This is the second-largest Project Worksheet in FEMA’s history.
The funds are in addition to $150 million in emergency federal Sandy aid the hospital received in January of 2013.
Like nearby hospitals Bellevue and the V.A. Manhattan campus, NYU Langone saw extensive flood damage as a result of Sandy and had to temporarily close.
Schumer said the money was awarded through a new process built into the Sandy aid bill that’s aimed at cutting federal red tape to get financial help where it’s needed most.
“This is a large amount of money, but the damage was enormous,” he said in a written statement. “When I witnessed this first-hand a few days after Sandy, I was shocked. I am pleased to see this desperately needed reimbursement to repair and rebuild in a resilient way.”
Repair work covers $540 million at the main campus for damage to the systems that operate building management, electrical and plumbing, fire alarms and fire protection, security, IT systems, telephony, as well as elevate and architectural damage. The hazard mitigation projects cover $589 million at the main campus at 550 First Avenue and its Center for Biomedical Imagining at 660 First Avenue. This includes installing exterior flood doors/barriers/egress, reinforcing walls, reinforcing slabs, filing in area ways, sealing exterior penetrations, elevating elevator program and service equipment, installing internal flood doors, sealing interior penetrations, installing check valves/backflow preventers and installing pumps and sump pumps.
The funding will include repairs at the Smilow Research Center, Schwartz Care center, Medical Science Building, Skirball Institute, Tisch Hospital, Alumni Hall, Rusk Institute, Perelman Building, Schwartz Hall and Coles Student Laboratories.
In a prepared statement, Robert I. Grossman, Dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center, praised Schumer for securing the FEMA funds. “We are grateful to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer for his unwavering support in achieving this extraordinary federal grant from FEMA, and are also appreciative of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership throughout our recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” Grossman said.
(left) Screenshot of FEMA’s 2012 flood hazard zone map (right) FEMA’s preliminary flood hazard zone map for 2013
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With the impending arrival of hurricane season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Office of Emergency Management have begun releasing preliminary data on flood hazards and evacuation zones.
FEMA released new maps on June 10 based on the best available flood hazard data. The maps are only preliminary but there are already noticeable differences between this year’s and last year’s versions of the flood zones for Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Plaza. The preliminary map can be found at region2coastal.com.
According to the 2012 map, Waterside Plaza, Avenue C, one block of East 23rd Street, less than a block of East 14th Street and only part of the Avenue C loop had a 0.2 percent chance of flood.
On the preliminary map for this year, Waterside Plaza is in a zone with a one percent or greater chance of flooding and has an additional hazard associated with storm waves. East 14th Street to the 14th Street Loop, Avenue C, the Avenue C Loop, the 20th Street Loop, East 23rd Street to First Avenue and all of Peter Cooper Village to the 20th Street Loop have a one percent annual chance of flood hazard. Part of the 14th Street Loop and the Oval are also now in a 0.2 percent annual chance flood hazard zone.
However, the FEMA maps are intended to assist communities and property owners understand flood risks and are created for flood insurance purposes. They are not meant to designate evacuation zones. A spokesperson for the Office of Emergency Management said that there are sometimes overlaps between OEM’s evacuation maps and FEMA’s flood hazard maps, but they are based on different criteria.
The evacuation zones designated by OEM are based solely on the area’s vulnerability to storm surges and are based on life safety, while the flood hazard maps from FEMA tell homeowners what the risk is for flooding over a period of years, and not just due to storm surge. Creeks and streams are taken into account in FEMA’s maps so a building can be located in a flood zone but outside an evacuation zone.
The evacuation zone map from OEM is still preliminary and hasn’t been officially released yet but some changes have already been made, including a switch from letters to numbers to designate the zones. The new zones, from one to six, include an additional 640,000 residents that were not included in the boundaries of the former zones, according to the Hurricane Sandy After Action report that was released by the mayor’s office in May.
There is a link for an evacuation map on the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association Facebook page, but this map is only a beta site with preliminary zones and it is not always accessible because the maps are continually being updated, according to OEM. When the official map is released later this month, it will be available at nyc.gov/hurricanezones.
The Midtown East-Stuyvesant Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) was planning to give a presentation at the Community Board 6 full board meeting on Wednesday evening about updates to the evacuation zones based on the link posted to the TA’s Facebook page.
However, CERT chief Pat Sallin said on Wednesday morning that they have cancelled this to prevent spreading misinformation based on the posted link.
Presentations from CERT have also been planned for upcoming 13th Precinct and 17th Precinct Community Council meetings, and Sallin said that those presentations will be dependent on whether or not OEM has officially released maps with updated evacuation zones.
As of T&V’s press time, the next 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, set to take place on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at 230 East 21st Street, will have an update on NYC Coastal Storm Evacuation Zones.