After an interview at Battery Park on Tuesday the day after for ABC News 20/20 Special “The Perfect Storm”, I went on a walk to see the aftermath of Sandy’s visit to lower Manhattan. My tour took me from Battery Park through the Financial District and then onward to South Street Seaport.
The Financial District was a chorus of pumps and generators, lacking power but replete with water.
“High water marks” such as those shown above will be valuable as we move to improve our storm surge model so that it can predict flooding within the city streets, for forecasts as well as for risk assessment.
Literally thousands of cars were flooded with seawater in the storm, including large lots full of new cars at the Port of Newark/Elizabeth.
Incidentally, we all have a new appreciation for neighborhood names, such as those with “lower”, “bay” and “seaport”, versus “heights” and “upper”, and for that matter “Canal Street”.
With layers of expansion into East River over NYC’s history, the original waterfront street, Pearl Street (initially called “Queen Street”), is actually three blocks inland and was relatively dry. However, landfill was used to extend the neighborhood seaward, and Pearl Street has been superceded by Front Street, and then by Water Street, and then seaward of that by South Street / FDR Drive and the modern-day waterfront park promenade. Landfill compresses with time, so it is a downhill path from the seawalls down into this area, and these streets were temporarily re-claimed by the hungry East River during Sandy’s sojourn.