A state health committee examining the impact of floods on New York hospitals learned an important lesson Thursday: Flood-mitigation measures can work.
After a devastating 2006 storm closed Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., for several days, its management spent $21 million—most of it FEMA and insurance money—in flood-mitigation measures.
Those included installing an $8 million flood wall and 10 floodgates, adding flood-proofing devices to prevent sanitary lines from backflow, and installing submersible electric lines.
When Irene struck in 2011, the new system paid off. The gates walled off nearly 11 feet of floodwater. Though muddy waters swirled high enough to nearly cover a tractor trailer just outside the flood gates, the hospital stayed dry and fully functioning, as was seen in a picture shown at Thursday's meeting of the Public Health and Health Planning ad hoc advisory committee on environmental and construction standards.
"I think this is the photo we'll use on the cover of our report," said committee chairman Jeffrey Kraut.
The group is charged with making recommendations for state hospital construction code changes. Though Sandy was the impetus for that work, the committee considers flooding a threat throughout the state, not just in areas on the Atlantic seacoast.