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NY1 Exclusive: First Look at Proposed Storm Barriers

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A giant U-shaped barrier around Lower Manhattan, transporting food by boat from Hunts Point in the Bronx and new neighborhood in Red Hook are some of the proposals to make the region more resilient to climate change after Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

It looks like a science fair for grownups, but this is hardly academic, not with so many lives at stake.

"We will not lose one more person to these catastrophic storm events," said Kate Orff of SCAPE.

That's the hope of Rebuild by Design, a contest for federal money set up after Hurricane Sandy. Teams jockeyed for attention at Thursday's exhibit.

One part of Manhattan's plan: art panels that double as storm barriers.

Brooklyn: a new industrial and retail district in Red Hook along the Gowanus Canal with a raised promenade.

Queens: an elevated subway platform and commercial strip in Rockaway Park.

The Bronx looks at a scary what-if. Hurricane Sandy didn't flood Hunts Point, but another storm could, and that would imperil the food supply for millions of us. The proposal? A new clean energy grid and a way to deliver food by ship.

"During storms, some of the first things to go down is roads and tunnels," said Richard Roark of OLIN. "Your tunnels get flooded, your roads get debris on them."

Then, there's Staten Island. The oysters give you a clue what they want. It sees aquatic life as a way to blunt deadly waves. It wants to build a string of breakwaters. It's called reef street.

Those islands are nothing compared to another team's. It suggests 100 miles of sand dunes, from Cape May to Cape Cod.

"The original intent is to create a natural barrier, so something that's styled along what would form in nature," said Andrew Kao of WXY/West 8.

Judges aren't just looking for the coolest technology. They want to make sure affected neighborhoods buy into it.

"When we chose proposals for the teams to work on, we actually said, 'Stop. Don't design yet. Start to build a coalition,'" said Henk Ovink of Rebuild by Design.

So they did, with events merging serious talk about saving lives with fun ways to make the water less threatening. Youngsters from Staten Island threaded oyster shells.

It's expected that there will be more than one winner. Expect an announcement later this month.

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