Engineers warned of storm surge threat to NYC in 2009

“Scientists and engineers were saying years before Katrina happened, ‘Hey, it’s going to happen, folks. Stop putting your head in the sand.” —Malcolm Bowman, professor of oceanography at the State University at Stony Brook. In 2009, he and other experts convened at a meeting in NYC of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and issued warnings that surge barriers or tide gates would help protect. Read more in James Glanz and Mireya Navarro's NYT report.


  1. I remember discussing what a surge would do to NYC in the early 90’s in undergraduate classes. 

  2. IMO it’s not some conspiricy and not the government screwing off.  It’s just called being human.  There’s a million things a day we’re told that we choose to ignore.  Smoking will increase your chance of cancer yet millions still smoke.  Jumping off a cliff in a wing suit or off a bridge on a bungiee will increase your chance of becoming a stain on the landscape yet people still do it.  Driving a motorcycle will increase the chance you will die when the day comes that you are in an automotive accident yet we still ride. 

    There are risks and hazards to everything we do and as humans we decide to take on those risks every day.  Wait, what??  A costal city could get smacked by a hurricane???  Wow!!  How is this news??  I think since a few decades after humans started living on the beach this has been an understood reality.  Let me give you another prediciton, if you live near a volcano there’s a chance it could go off. 

    Heck one thing we know for sure is that this little blue marble we call Earth will one day be swallowed up by the Sun or smacked into by something big enough to cause major damage.  The planets lifespan is finite yet here we sit, still riding it, not really in any hurry to expand out to somewhere else and increase our chance of survival.  Take that one and run with it.  Maybe we should stop putting our heads in the sand before we become extinct.

      1. Well since you want to go there……..  Mind you, yes, the hurricane was indeed tragic and yes, we need to help those who live there out as much as possible.

        However, it is an individuals CHOICE to live near the coast or to place a business there.  So far as I know nobody, save for the possibility of prisoners in a prison, is forced to live wherever they live.  I could choose to live on the edge of a volcano, I could choose to live on the coast, I could choose to live anywhere i choose.  So if we’re coating this as never having been an individual choice then what you’ve said is false.

        Although, and lets assume your correct in your thinking for a moment, then your thoughts still do not rule out what we should be doing RIGHT NOW in other places.   Are cities near volcanos ready for it to explode at any minute?  Are all other coastal cities, including west coast cities ready for a hurricane?  Are cities near mountains ready for an avalanche?  How about your midwest cities?  Are they ready for tornados, earthquakes?  And finally how about our planet??  Is it ready for a large sized meteor to smack us?  A super solar flare to burn us up?  For the moon to destabalize from something hitting it and crashing down on us?

        The point that I”m making here is that these are all possibilities that are known could occur.  They could happen at any time in any place.   Short of putting everyone in concrete bunkers with full hazmat suits, a stockpile of food, and a starship in their back yard you will never be able to prepare for every instance that could occur.  I could tell you today that in a few years there will be a large earthquake on the West Coast.  Most likely I’m right, in a FEW years there most likely will be an earthquake.  Better start getting ready for it.

        1. And what information do people use to base these choices on?  Specifically the information about the changing risks of living on the East Coast due to Climate change.  Faux News?  Astro-turfing bloggers from the coal companies?  The Koch Brothers?

          1. Changing risks??  So far as I remember there’s always been a risk of a severe ocean/gulf/sea storm when you live near the coast of anywhere since the dawn of time.  Just as there’s a risk that a tornado will come ripping though my midwest house.  The risk is always there and will forever be there.  You don’t need to seek out info or experts to know these things they’re risks that are just known but not considered day to day.

          2. Nadreck is right, DreadJester. The risk exposures are constantly changing due to a few reasons. Off the top of my head, I can think of three: getting new information (e.g. learning new things about weather patterns, how massive infrastructure reacts in these senarios, etc), changing conditions (e.g. climate change, regardless of whether it’s man-made or not), and new development in areas of high risk (e.g. people setting in sunny areas with no natural fresh water source.

            The best industries to look at for how to manage these changing risks and risk exposures are oil companies and shipping companies. They are both heavily dependent on distributed networks of infrastructure. They’re both investing heavily to mitigate sea level rise.

        2. However, it is an individuals CHOICE to live near the coast or to place a business there.

          People settle on the coasts because the sea is an important commerce route, fishing is a major industry, the climate is on the whole actually milder than inland, etc.  Your comment is all form and zero content.

          1. Funny how a mod answers and one of my most important posts goes poof somewhere……….

            As for your comment, it’s all choices.  All of us make the best choices at the time we make them.  Societies make choices, businesses make choices, religion makes choices, and individuals make choices.  Fishing is a major industry because at some point someone decided fish was tasty.  One choice leads to another leads to another.  At one point each person living wherever they live made a choice to live there. Either because they could easily get a job there, schools were better, living expenses were lower, climate was better, girls were easier, booze was cheaper.  It’s all about choices.

            My missing point however was that we can sit around here pointing fingers about who didn’t do what or go on and on about what should have been done.  Yeah, we can do that till we’re blue in the face but that doesn’t change anything.  Question is what are we going to do NOW?  What are we going to do in the FUTURE?  There’s a million things out there that could happen.  Why don’t we worry about those things? 

            Why is it there’s been a plenty of hurricanes in the past and nobody has ever done anything about them yet?  Because we love to go round and round about what we could have done till we forget all  about it and move on down the road.  Why didn’t we do anything after the Sept. 8th 1900 hurricane of Galveston Texas that killed between 6,000 to 12,000 people?  Why didn’t we do anything after any major hurricane after that?  Why won’t we do anything anywhere after this one?  Who’s going to point the fingers at whom next time?  Round and round we go on this merry go round of life.

          2. We have a rule about repeating yourself. Stick by the rules and your comments won’t go away.

  3. True enough. The question isn’t IF something will happen, but WHEN. And we can’t really afford to go around simultaneously preparing for every conceivable natural disaster. 

    Where to stop-  Space asteroids? Super Volcano? Zombie Infestation?

    It’s all possible but the means of preparation begin to easily outstrip our funds for preparation.

    Which would be great, except the idiot running NYC thinks the most dangerous nemesis right now is large, sugary drinks. 
    Way to go, Mike.

    1.  When to stop is sometime AFTER having started.

      Apparently starting comes AFTER naysaying and disinterested defeatism

    2.  Preparing coastal areas for storm surges is not really equivalent in terms of risk management returns to preparing for a zombie infestation.

      Curious whether you know how much the city of NY spends on emergency care for obesity-related diseases annually.  Seems relevant to asking whether Bloomberg’s as stupid as you seem to think he is.  (So why do I get the feeling you’re not nearly as wealthy as he is?)

  4. It’s quite easy after the fact to point fingers, blame, and say “oh we should have done something before.”  Unfortunately the world doesn’t come with a replay button.  So rather than sitting around talking about what “could” or “should” have been done why don’t we talk about what we can do right now and in the future. 

    1. So rather than sitting around talking about what “could” or “should” have been done why don’t we talk about what we can do right now and in the future

      They did and nobody listened.  We should learn from this experience so we don’t continuously repeat it or we’re always going to be caught with our pants down.

      In other words, you can’t tackle a problem until you come out of denial and admit you have one.

  5. Well, nobody listens to Alarmist stuff like that.  Remember that ridiculous movie “2012” which opens with New York City underwater?  We all know that that could never happen!

  6. The question is now, what will they do in preparation for the next storm? and I don’t  mean Wednesday…. Will their choices change?? Will the people with means buy up the property and build storm proof residences avoiding excessive insurance costs? Or will it be life as usual?

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