Pictures from a Preparation: Seaport Gets the Storm-Ready Treatment

One of more than 100 water-filled Tiger Dams gets some special attention from workers installing the barriers on Monday, Aug. 3. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Aug. 04, 2020

Beginning two days before heavy winds and rain were predicted to bring flood risks to the South Street Seaport on Tuesday, workers installed bright orange barriers, called Tiger Dams—111 of them—from Catherine Slip to Wall Street. First laid out flat, each interlocking 50-foot-long tubes were filled with water and many were reinforced with sandbags. Placed in the gaps between the permanent, sand-filled HESCO barriers, they are meant to create continuous protection for nearly a mile along South Street and continuing two blocks west on Wall Street, to Water Street. With the storm Isaias predicted to bring one-to-two feet of flooding to the area, this was the only section of the city at risk of suffering a storm surge, officials said. (Storm waters, as it turned out, did not threaten the Seaport, but in other parts of the city heavy winds caused massive power outages, and destruction, including one death, from falling trees.)

“By the time we're done tonight, we should have one seamless barrier to protect from the one to two feet of inundation or a storm surge that we think we're going to see,” said Deanne Criswell, Commissioner  of the Department of Emergency Management, speaking Monday afternoon at a press briefing. 

In the absence of a permanent solution (and funding) for protecting Lower Manhattan below the Brooklyn Bridge, the Tiger Dams and Hesco barriers are “interim” measures, not capable of defending against a Sandy-like storm surge as high as four feet.

“We’re expecting a lot less, thank God, with this storm,” Mayor de Blasio said during the preparations, recalling the flooding that devastated the Seaport eight years ago. “But it reminds you of what people went through and why it is so important to protect this neighborhood, and neighborhoods that are vulnerable.”