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What we learned from hurricane Sandy

Nov. 2, 2014

The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy is pleased to announce that, with the recent re-opening  of the Walkway in front of the Grand Cove condominiums in Edgewater, all damage to the Walkway caused by Hurricane Sandy has been repaired or replaced.

It has been two years since Hurricane Sandy struck the New York/New Jersey waterfront, drove countless people from their homes and caused billions of dollars of damage to homes, businesses, parks and infrastructure.

The Hudson River Walkway was damaged along the entire length and was totally destroyed in Liberty State Park, Port Liberte’ condominiums in Jersey City, Avalon apartments in Jersey City, Grand Cove condominiums in Edgewater and numerous smaller sections along the Walkway.

The enormous value of the Walkway to the public and waterfront properties was recognized by waterfront property owners as clean-up and repairs began immediately and the smaller destroyed sections of the Walkway as well as the Avalon apartment sections were rebuilt within a month or two of Sandy.  The cost to rebuild these sections was small enough that waterfront property owners and their respective insurance claims were able to raise the necessary funds for reconstruction of the Walkway.

For larger areas of Walkway damage, raising the necessary funds delayed the reopening of the Walkway for over a year.  In spite of the delay, the Conservancy was gratified to see Port Liberte’ condominiums take a long term view of potential flooding and replace the wooden Walkway that was destroyed with a sheet pile bulkhead and a fully compliant 16 foot wide concrete paver section of the Walkway.  Areas of the Walkway that were built with sheet pile bulkheads before Hurricane Sandy suffered little or no damage from Sandy. The Conservancy continues to advocate for a long term approach to Walkway construction. Construction methods like sheet pile bulkheads, larger stone imbedded in expanded concrete for rip rap and increased height of the Walkway edge in flood prone areas can be of help.  The Walkway was planned to be 30 feet wide with 16 feet for the unobstructed Walkway pavers and landscaped berms filling the remaining 14 feet as natural separation between the Walkway surface and buildings.   Locations along the Walkway with the latter type of design and construction did not suffer massive damage from Sandy.  More durable shoreline components provide long term protection to the Walkway from storms.

The use of the Walkway for transporting people to and from ferry stops and shopping centers and for commuting along the waterfront in lieu of having to use heavily traveled routes such as River Road, became apparent especially at Grand Cove in Edgewater.  It took the condominium association  two years to rebuild their section of the Walkway, most of that time was spent raising funds to reconstruct the Walkway and the condominium clubhouse which is located on the Walkway.  In the end, Grand Cove was successful in receiving SBA loans to do the reconstruction which has been gratefully received by its neighbors and local shoppers. The funding, however, was insufficient to allow the association to rebuild with sheet piles or other long term protection. The Conservancy recognizes the financial burden carried by waterfront property owners when storms, like Sandy, destroy the Walkway.  The Conservancy continues efforts to establish a regional agency that would work with waterfront property owners to manage, maintain and help fund waterfront reconstruction from major storms.

Finally, the massive destruction that occurred throughout Liberty State Park, including the Walkway, is being restored in Phases over several years. While the Walkway within the park has been restored, the Liberty State Park Historical Train Station and the Interpretative Center should re-open in 2015.


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