Sunday, December 28, 2014

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NY1 Web Extra: Fighting The Tide, Part VII

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In the wake of its devastation, Hurricane Sandy leaves New York with difficult questions about how it could prevent similar destruction in another storm. The Netherlands is familiar with the risks of flooding. It has implemented a wide array of measures – some big, some small – to prevent another disaster that badly decimated that country in 1953.

With an eye toward how New York will prepare for the next Sandy, Josh Robin of NY1 News and Juan Manuel Benitez of NY1 Noticias traveled to the Netherlands in January to produce the special TV series, "Fighting the Tide." Robin also wrote this web-exclusive report about his trip.

Part VII: New York

The last day in the Netherlands was in Amsterdam and our breakfast thankfully wasn't a mad gobble of the buffet. We met up with my friend Kay Van De Linde, a well-known Dutch political consultant. He's credited – or faulted – with importing aggressive American style marketing into the genteel world of European public affairs. He learned our ways from nearly two decades in New York, at the foot of David Garth, the legendary political maven behind the elections of Ed Koch, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg.

For several hours, we shot our promos and "stand-ups" – those parts of television stories where you actually see the reporter. Boats were chugging in the near-freezing canals. An Amsterdam mayoral spokesman stopped by and gave us the latest news: the Amsterdam canals were about to be shut to all boat traffic. That would allow the water to freeze, and pave the path for ice-skating. It was front-page news the next day, when Juan and I left for New York.

I had spent a lot of time reporting from the ground during and after Sandy. But my flight home was the first time I saw the destruction from the air. A lot had been cleaned up by mid-January; but the devastation was still apparent. The sand from Long Island's south shore piled far north of the beach. There were gaps in the boardwalks. In places, wood boards were scattered in the marshlands of Jamaica Bay.

I wondered what would come next in the city. How would the billions be spent? Would we see well-maintained sea walls in Oakwood on Staten Island and elsewhere? Inflatable barriers in subway tunnels? The return of marshland to the Battery that would be familiar to Henry Hudson? At the very least, would we realize that our home city is no longer the same?

We started to descend into JFK. The olive-colored water below me looked placid. From the air, you could barely see the foamy white caps of the waves.

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