Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced today that two measures she authored to strengthen the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ disaster response are included in the final Army Corps bill. The measures would authorize the Corps to recommend specific projects to reduce flood risks in areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy and provide the Corps with more flexibility to put the necessary infrastructure upgrades in place to prepare for future storms. The House-Senate Conference Report is expected to pass Congress next week.
The two Gillibrand provisions are included in the final the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), 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 that terrible storm. Equipping the 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 will 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 included $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, dune or other flood Army Corps project is destroyed, the Army Corps can only rebuild exactly what was destroyed on the day of the disaster, even if that condition or height may have been deficient and doesn’t provide adequate flood protection. In an effort to ensure that post-disaster repairs provide communities with the protection to withstand future floods, Senator Gillibrand also authored a provision that will give the Corps the authority to repair damaged projects, such as seawalls, dunes and jetties, back to their full authorized design specifications, not their pre-storm condition.