Mar 3 2017
A Big, Beautiful (Flood) Wall in Brooklyn
Rendering of the new Empire Stores facility, which has purchased a deployable flood wall to protect against stormwaters.
Photo credit: Empire Stores
March 3, 2017
A Big, Beautiful (Flood) Wall in Brooklyn

Category

Climate

Here’s one wall Mexico won’t be paying for. The new Empire Stores retail facility, located inside seven century-old storehouses on the Brooklyn waterfront, has invested in a $1-million-dollar, seven-foot-tall portable flood wall to defend against rising waters.

The next time a Sandy-style flooding event is predicted for the region, 29 crates containing wall panels will be trucked to the site from a local warehouse. Workers will build the wall—all 1,100 feet of it—in four to five hours—and if all goes as planned, the retail stores will “ride out the flood like a tasteful island in a surging sea.”

An AquaFence deployed at Atlantic Wharf in Boston. Photo credit: Rupa Shenoy / WGBH News.

Made by Norwegian company AquaFence, the L-shaped wall panels are made of laminated plywood, stainless steel, and aluminum. Vinyl webs run between the panels to keep water out. The horizontal foot of the panels will face the river, utilizing the weight of the water to secure it in place.

The nearby Jane’s Carousel, which was inundated during Superstorm Sandy, has also been equipped with a wall from AquaFence.

It should be noted that deployable flood walls are not failsafe—according to Andrew Martin, the acting chief of the risk analysis branch in the regional office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, during Sandy, there were a “large number of failures of these types of protection schemes.”

However, when combined with other strategies (placing mechanical equipment on higher floors, elevating ground levels, etc), the barriers can provide an important layer of defense against destructive stormwaters—something we are bound to see more of in coming years.

Our government may still be arguing over the validity of climate change, but it appears business owners and real estate investors have already come to their conclusion.

Rendering of the new Empire Stores facility, which has purchased a deployable flood wall to protect against stormwaters.
Photo credit: Empire Stores