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Quinn: Studies Needed On Storm Damage Prevention Efforts

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn laid out her vision Tuesday for what she says the city can do to prepare for future storms, including federal aid and the possibility of building protecting structures like a seawall or storm barrier. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Sandy may have been the worst storm New Yorkers have seen, but it likely won’t be the last.

"Those who still deny the reality of climate change, I challenge you," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "Come to Coney Island. Come to Far Rockaway. Come to the south shore of Staten Island."

Tuesday, Quinn, a possible mayoral candidate, presented a wide-ranging vision for storm preparedness, possibly including floodgates, like those in some European cities.

"It’s now crystal clear that we need to build protective structures," Quinn said.

Quinn is pushing for an Army Corps of Engineers study and is accelerating two city studies on the issue. Her ideas also include accelerating sewer and wastewater treatment projects, requiring new pavement materials that absorb rainwater, and balloons to seal off subway tunnels.

The big question, of course, is how to pay for all this. A storm-surge barrier alone could cost an estimated $16 billion. The other storm-proofing measures outlined by Quinn could add another $4 billion. So the City Council speaker is looking to Washington."

"If New York City loses its stature and position as the financial capital of the world, that isn't just a devastating thing for us, it's a devastating thing for the country," Quinn said. "So let me be clear. We need the federal government."

Quinn also wants to see changes to the gas distribution network, as well as from Con Edison, including requiring them to put power lines underground in vulnerable neighborhoods.

"They had a billion dollars in profits last year," Quinn said. "They need to not pass this on to ratepayers."

The policy speech was well-received by the audience of business and civic leaders, though some warned the road won’t be easy.

"This is a huge, shifting question that will be for the centuries, not for weeks or months," said Christopher Ward, a former executive director of the Port Authority. "I think the main thing we have to understand is there’s not a simple solution, there’s not a one-shot solution."

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