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Feds Pick Winners Of Post-Sandy Storm Protection Design Contest

LITTLE FERRY, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Federal officials say they’ll fund a series of designs to protect the New York and New Jersey region from storms like Sandy.

Along with Mayor De Blasio, Governor Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced $335-million of HUD funding for a 16 1/2-ft tall berm in a park like setting that would protect the low lying, flood prone area from East 23rd Street down to Houston Street on the Lower East Side.

The move will be the first step in a larger multi-billion dollar project called ‘The Big U’ which would ultimately provide a protective barrier around Manhattan from Midtown East all the way around to Midtown West.

That project will create an 8-mile system of dykes around low-lying parts of Manhattan.

“We are working to ensure that we fight against flood waters before they happen, with real protection for the people of the East Side of Manhattan,” Mayor De Blasio said.

Another protects a key food market — Hunts Point — in the Bronx, while a third helps drain stretches of Long Island.

Another project will construct oyster-bed breakwaters for Tottenville, Staten Island.

Artificial islands will also be created along the New York and New Jersey coast to blunt the force of storm surges.

The projects will cost more than $500 million.

Donovan announced the winners Monday in separate news conferences in Manhattan and Little Ferry.

“Implementing these proposals is morally the right thing to do because they will save lives,” Donovan said. “But it also makes economic sense because for every dollar that we spend today on hazard mitigation, we save at least $4 the next time disaster strikes.”

Following the severe flooding and damage that took place during Sandy, New York City’s resilience to severe weather was called into question, CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported.

“We have an obligation to make sure that this never happens again,” Donovan said.

The winning projects were chosen from a pool of finalists as a part of the “Rebuild by Design” competition created by President Barack Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

In New Jersey, one of the winning designs will add a pumping system, levees and green space to prevent water from flowing into Hoboken.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who accused the Christie administration of withholding Sandy relief money to strong-arm her into approving a development project, sat in the front row for the announcement but did not speak to Gov. Chris Christie, who spoke at the event.

“He’s going to do this job, and I’m going to do mine,” she told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “Our administrations are going to need to work together and get this done.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announce winners of the "Rebuild By Design" competition June 2, 2014, in Little Ferry, N.J. (Credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announce winners of the “Rebuild By Design” competition June 2, 2014, in Little Ferry, N.J. (Credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

“I think it’s a great proposal. I think that we really have a great proposal that can be a model for urban resiliency.”

Another winning design adds more wetlands and berms to the Meadowlands to prevent flooding in Bergen County.

You can learn more about the winning entries here.

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