U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, announced today that a key Senate panel passed two Gillibrand measures that would strengthen the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers' disaster response by authorizing the Corps to recommend specific projects to reduce flood risks in areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy and providing the Corps with more flexibility to put the necessary infrastructure upgrades in place to prepare for future storms.
The two Gillibrand provisions passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes Army Corps of Engineers projects, such as dredging and maintaining New York's ports and harbors, and building levees, seawalls and dunes to protect communities from flooding.
"Superstorm Sandy left New York with deep and lasting destruction," said Senator Gillibrand. "We must be prepared for tomorrow's storm while we rebuild our coastlines, infrastructure, and communities from Sandy. Equipping our Army Corps with tools to improve our infrastructure in the long-term will go a long way towards fortifying our shorelines to withstand future disasters."
Senator Gillibrand's first provision would direct the Army Corps to provide Congress with specific project recommendations that will improve flood protection in the Sandy-affected region as part of a comprehensive study. At Senator Gillibrand's urging, the Sandy aid bill including $20 million for the Army Corps to conduct a study that addresses flood risks in areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy, which is critical to assessing the flood protection along New York's coast. Gillibrand's provision helps ensure that the study would be effective and specific in its guidelines.
Currently, if a seawall or dune is destroyed, the Corps is required to rebuild exactly what was destroyed on the day of the disaster, even if that condition or height may have been deficient. If that structure or project needed upgrades before the disaster hit, emergency funding cannot be used to fix those deficiencies. In an effort to ensure that structural deficiencies are fully repaired and coastal communities are able to withstand future floods, Senators Gillibrand and Frank Lautenberg authored legislation that would give the Corps the authority to make critical upgrades necessary to protect property, including building seawalls, dunes, and jetties.