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Taming the Atlantic: Let's Start Now

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If I were mayor of New York today -- as I hope to be a year from now -- I would corral the Nassau and Suffolk County executives and head up to Albany to sit down with Governor Andrew Cuomo to establish a Quad Regional Feasibility Study Commission charged with reporting back to us in 90 days with a comprehensive look at what can be done to tame the Atlantic Ocean from again destroying our communities.

The ideas would all be there, they would be graded as to the degree of difficulty in making them productive and there would be an extensive budgetary analysis to help us make the best and most cost -- effective choices.

Here's the difficult truth about this destructive storm that ravaged us: Nobody could have predicted the forces that brought three storms together to give us this massive superstorm, but the possibility of such a storm and surge was foretold -- and ignored.

Three years ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers -- a group so respected that their findings are frequently written into building codes around the world -- convened a seminar in New York City to present computer simulations of a storm-surge threat and detailed engineering designs for measures to counter it.

Corporate, academic and government engineers were involved. Officials from the NYC Office of Emergency Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took part in the seminar, giving talks and serving on panels.

Many of the talks were concerned, as they would have been, with the erection of various forms of barriers and barricades.

Little was said about the fragility of our electrical and energy grids, about the poor location of power plants, about overhead wires and trees, about the antiquity of electric transformers, the easy access of water to our subway system (though they've been flooding increasingly in the past few years) -- because all of this has been known, recognized and accepted but absolutely nothing has been done to fix these obvious problems.

We're still cleaning up the physical damage -- though the damage to the lives of so many thousands of us will last for years. Let's not wait until this happens again. Let the planning to find "the fix" start tomorrow... literally tomorrow.

And let the minds and talents of our very best be fixed on solutions that will work.

So much of this will depend on money but money can and will be found once the ideas turn into real program possibilities with budgets attached.

If nothing but talk exists a year from now and I become mayor of New York, I will establish such a feasibility study on January 1, 2014.

But we have the opportunity to begin now. We can't wait till next hurricane season to begin.

Tom Allon is a 2013 Republican and Liberal Party-backed candidate for mayor of New York City.


Follow Tom's campaign on Twitter: @TomAllon4Mayor and Facebook.

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