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Queens Chronicle

Trump opposed to a Sandy sea wall

‘Get your mops,’ he warns. Flood protection plan ‘costly, foolish’

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Posted: Thursday, January 23, 2020 10:30 am | Updated: 2:04 pm, Thu Jan 30, 2020.

President Trump has found a wall he doesn’t like.

In a characteristically cheeky tweet last weekend, the president announced his disapproval of a proposal to construct an elaborate sea wall from the Rockaways to New Jersey to prevent a repeat of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“Sorry, you’ll just have to get your mops & buckets ready!” Trump said of the expensive proposal to protect the city’s shoreline neighborhoods — including Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach and the Rockaways — from another storm surge.

Trump was apparently reacting to a front-page story in last Saturday’s New York Times that outlined a proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a series of gates across New York Harbor over the next 25 years, using techniques pioneered by Dutch engineers in Holland.

The price tag, $119 billion by USACE estimates, was too high, he tweeted — though he placed the cost at $200 billion without explanation.

Besides, Trump wrote, the gates “probably won’t work anyway” and “would look terrible.”

Leaders in South Queens have been advocating for small projects around Jamaica Bay as more practical and far quicker to build. They welcomed the tweet, if only because it put the issue of protecting their neighborhoods back on the table.

“While I don’t agree with the wording of the President’s tweet, I do agree with the fundamental issues that he mentioned,” said Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association and a major figure in the yearslong recovery effort from the storm.

“The construction of the massive seawall, which will not be completed until 2027 at the earliest, does not address the higher tidal flooding associated with sea level rise such as the increase in ‘sunny day’ flooding which is of equal concern to residents that live along the shore as is the storm surge that comes from a Nor’easter or hurricane,” he said in an email.

“In the past the USACE has built and efficiently operated smaller hurricane barriers.”

Last summer, the federal government pulled out of plans to build a berm — a 10-foot-tall sand barrier — in Spring Creek Park next to Howard Beach because it was not cost effective.

The berm, estimated to cost $75 million, offered protection only for homes in the new part of Howard Beach, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

Sandy caused more than $60 billion in damage in 2012 and killed 72 people, including one in Hamilton Beach.

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