Lower Manhattan Flood Risk Illustrated by Maps from City’s Environmental Agency
Scenario 1: Moderate Stormwater Flood without Sea Level Rise
With little fanfare, the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on July 6 released three rainfall-based flooding maps that project future risks of inundation throughout the five boroughs, under various scenarios and time frames.
For Lower Manhattan residents, the maps illustrate moderate stormwater flooding scenarios under current and future sea level rise conditions, as well as an extreme stormwater flooding scenario under future conditions.
The first scenario depicts “Moderate Stormwater Flood without Sea Level Rise,” meaning that it refers to current ocean levels. This hypothetical imagines approximately two inches of rain in one hour, an outcome that currently has a 10 percent chance of occurring in a given year.
These circumstances predict scattered “nuisance flooding (greater or equal to four inches)” or “deep and contiguous flooding (one foot or greater)” at a handful of locations: on Broad Street (between Water and Beaver Streets) in the Financial District and on West Street (between Vesey and Barclay Streets, where water reaches inland for half a block on each) in Tribeca. In the Seaport, flooding is expected to accumulate along South Street (between John and Dover Streets), extending as much as a block inland (to Front Street) at each intersection, as well as at the crossing of John and Pearl Streets
Scenario 2: Moderate Stormwater Flood with 2050 Sea Level Rise
The second contingency envisions a “Moderate Stormwater Flood with 2050 Sea Level Rise,” which translates into the same two inches of rain in one hour, with the same probability 10 percent chance in a given year, but couples this with ocean levels that are 30 inches higher than today (currently the high end of estimates for the mid-century).
These assumptions yield a slightly more sobering set of conditions. In addition to the flooding outlined above (plus new wet patches at Chambers and West Streets, Cedar and West Streets, and Whitehall and Water Streets), the Moderate 2050 projection shows high tides touching the edges of the Battery Park City Esplanade and most of South Street, while also intruding upon Piers 25 and 26 (in Tribeca), as well as the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, the Battery Maritime Building, and the Wall Street Heliport, along with Piers 11 and 15 on the East River.
The third sequence is the most alarming. This imagines an “Extreme Stormwater Flood with 2080s Sea Level Rise,” which connotes some 3.5 inches of rain in one hour (gauged at a one percent probability in a given year) combined with an increase of 54 inches in ocean levels (currently the upper reach of estimates for 58 years from now).
Scenario 3: Extreme Stormwater Flood with 2080s Sea Level Rise
In this projection, there is flooding of no less than four inches (and in some cases greater than one foot) at each location noted above, with similar torrents on two stretches of West Street (from Battery Place to Liberty Street and from Vesey Street to a point north of Chambers Street). The deluge also comes to the Battery Park City ball fields, the western end of Rector Place, and Washington Street (from Rector to Albany Streets). Also soaked are the foot of North End Avenue, and stretches of Vesey, Barclay, and Murray Streets.
But the worst news is for the East River waterfront, with high tides racing inward from South to Front to Water Streets, at every point between the Battery and Brooklyn Bridge. At a handful of locations, the water is projected to reach Gold Street, William Street, and Nassau Street, all of which are closer to the geographic center of Lower Manhattan than to either of its shorefronts. Further north, vast lengths of West Broadway, Canal Street, Centre Street, and Baxter Streets also appear likely to become at least temporarily unusable.
For Lower Manhattan residents, these dire projections may be tempered slightly, because as the DEP notes, they do not reflect any of “the potential benefits of coastal protection projects currently under design or construction,” such as the City’s East Side Coastal Resiliency Project and those currently being designed in Battery Park City.
To the editor,
In response to the letter on July 13, 2022, from Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) Acting Chair Martha Gallo, the Battery Park City Homeowners Coalition (HC), representing the owners of 3,800 homes, acknowledges the service of Ms. Gallo on the BPCA board over the years. That said, we strongly disagree with almost every point she makes in her letter.
Ms. Gallo’s claim that “all New Yorkers would like their rent reduced” indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of what the HC is seeking. Our most recent proposal, as well as all other prior proposals, did NOT seek a reduction in the annual ground rent that homeowners pay to the BPCA. We asked for a reduction in the rate of future increases.
Ms. Gallo and the BPCA claim that condominium owners cannot be given the relief requested because it would violate the BPCA’s responsibility as “stewards of public funds.” Where was this concern for stewardship when the BPCA reduced the ground rent for the operators of Pier A, for whom the Authority cut rent payments by one-third, before that business went bankrupt? Or the landlords of Gateway Plaza, for whom the BPCA shaved tens of millions of dollars off future ground rent obligations, to preserve limited affordability for roughly 600 households? The Authority also has frozen ground rent for Brookfield Place through the year 2069, at a per-square-foot cost less than one half of what a typical condominium owner pays.
The real question is why homeowners are being penalized, while the Authority confers lavish generosity on restaurant operators, billionaire landlords, and commercial developers.
We also reject Ms. Gallo’s narrative that the BPCA has “worked in good faith for many years to provide economic stability to homeowners through a predictable ground rent schedule reaching far into the future.” The BPCA has for years refused to negotiate meaningfully with the HC.
Ms. Gallo acknowledges that the BPCA is “pursuing a program whereby ground rent increases would be deferred” but only to “certain residents with a demonstrated financial need.” Note that payments deferred entail no actual benefit to any homeowner, whose units will decline in value because of this looming debt bomb.
The most compelling reason why the BPCA must make meaningful concessions on ground rent for all homeowners is because the onerous obligations called for in these leases are never going to be paid. They will go unpaid not because we are unwilling to pay, but because we are unable to pay. The value of our homes will first decline, then drop to zero, as a result of future payments that will exceed the value of these properties. Owners will simply walk away—first by the dozens, then by the hundreds, and eventually by the thousands. All of these residents will be forced out of the community they love and helped build. These homeowners will be wiped out financially. Entire buildings will go into foreclosure, and possession will revert to the BPCA.
We urge Ms. Gallo, and the BPCA to come to the table with the BPC Homeowners Coalition and give homeowners some of the accommodation they have provided to restaurant operators, billionaire landlords, and commercial developers.
Pat Smith, on behalf of the Battery Park City Homeowners Coalition
Breaking Bad, Lower Manhattan-Style
Federal Agents Seize Drugs Worth More Than $1 Million Outside Downtown Hotel
Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducting an undercover surveillance outside at Lower Manhattan hotel nabbed a team of alleged traffickers who are accused of driving across country with a total of 165 pounds of crystal methamphetamine.
Longtime Resident and Stalwart Protector of His Neighbors Memorialized
Gus Ouranitsas, who lived in Battery Park City from 1986 until his death from a September 11-related cancer last year, was memorialized by friends and neighbors at a tree-planting ceremony and plaque unveiling on July 7.
New York’s annual food celebration, Restaurant Week, wraps up on Sunday, August 21. For those disinclined to venture above Canal Street, the good news is that of all the 659 establishments participating throughout the City this summer, almost four dozen are located in Lower Manhattan. Most restaurants are offering a selection of $30, $45, and $60 two-course lunches and $30, $45, and $60 three-course dinners. In many of these locations, the everyday prices are significantly higher than Restaurant Week offerings, which makes this value proposition a compelling opportunity to try places that might ordinarily be outside your budget. Because seats go fast, please call ahead to confirm availability and make a reservation.
For a list of participating Lower Manhattan restaurants, their addresses and phone number, click here.
A lunch time program for passersby to play a quick game of chess or backgammon. Using clocks, opponents will play 5 minute games that are fast, furious and fun. An instructor will be on hand to offer pointers and tips to improve your game. Free.
Play the popular strategy game while getting pointers and advice from an expert. Chess improves concentration, problem solving, and strategic planning — plus it’s fun! For ages 5 and up (adults welcome).
Observe and sketch the human figure. Each week a model will strike short and long poses for participants to draw. An artist/educator will offer constructive suggestions and critique. Drawing materials provided, and artists are encouraged to bring their own favorite media. Free.
Take a self guided tour of the tall ship Wavertree, and visit the 12 Fulton Street galleries to view the exhibitions “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionares aboard the Great Liners.” Through Sunday. Free.
Available for PT/FT. Wonderful person, who is a great worker.
Worked in BPC.
$2.00 per notarized signature.
Today in History: July 26
“Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park, N.Y.C. 1962” photograph by Diane Arbus, who died on this day in 1971.
1581 – Plakkaat van Verlatinghe (Act of Abjuration): The northern Low Countries declare their independence from the Spanish king, Philip II.
1775 – The office that would later become the United States Post Office Department is established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania takes office as Postmaster General.
1788 – New York ratifies the United States Constitution and becomes the 11th state of the United States.
1891 – France annexes Tahiti.
1956 – Following the World Bank’s refusal to fund building the Aswan Dam, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal, sparking international condemnation.
2005 – Mumbai, India receives 39.17 inches of rain within 24 hours, resulting in floods killing over 5,000 people.
2016 – Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth.
1678 – Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor (d. 1711)
1875 – Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (d. 1961)
1922 – Jason Robards, American actor (d. 2000)
1928 – Elliott Erwitt, French-American photographer and director
1943 – Mick Jagger, English singer-songwriter
1980 – Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand (2017-present)
1533 – Atahualpa, Inca emperor murdered by Francisco Pizarro (b. ca. 1500)
1971 – Diane Arbus, American photographer and academic (b. 1923)
1984 – George Gallup, American mathematician and statistician, (b. 1901)
2009 – Merce Cunningham, American dancer and choreographer (b. 1919)