By John Lynds
The Biblical Noah built an ark and herded two of every creature aboard to survive the great flood that lasted 120 days before God set him and all of earth’s creatures safely on the mountains of Ararat.
East Boston’s NOAH (Neighborhood of Affordable Housing) is not going to build an ark to save East Boston residents from rising flood waters, but is building awareness in the community and showing residents how they can protect themselves from climate change through events like Saturday’s Climate Summit at the Mario Umana Academy.
At the summit NOAH, who has been working alongside the City of Boston’s Climate Ready Boston, received a surprise commitment from Mayor Martin Walsh who unveiled several immediate measures Boston will take to project Eastie and Charlestown from climate change.
The measures include installing a deployable flood-wall across the East Boston Greenway and elevating a section of Main Street in Charlestown. Both are actions outlined in the City of Boston’s “Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown” report, released during NOAH’s Climate Summit.
“Climate change is here. It’s happening now. This year, we saw its effect in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and across our country and world. In Boston, we are seeing more frequent flooding on our waterfront, especially in East Boston and Charlestown,” said Mayor Walsh. “It’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead.”
The deployable flood-wall in Eastie will include the installation of a seven-foot high deployable flood wall across the Greenway under Sumner Street. The Mayor said this would block the current one percent annual chance flood, with one foot of freeboard. The project would provide immediate protection to almost 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and critical infrastructure for an estimated cost for design and construction of $100,000. Implementation will include an operational plan for deploying the flood wall in advance of a flood. The East Boston Greenway is owned by the City of Boston and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.
“We’re pleased to see Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston, and other key community partners take on the threat of sea-level rise and storm surge to protect our vulnerable neighborhood,” said NOAH’s Executive Director Philip Giffee. “We’re eager to move forward together to turn plans into action with budgets and continue working toward a more resilient City for all its residents ahead of the next big storm.”
Over 400 residents from East Boston and Charlestown participated in the design process through meetings, community events, open houses, and an online survey. East Boston and Charlestown residents, businesses, and organizations shared their desire for effective and long-lasting solutions to keep them safe from coastal flooding while also enhancing their neighborhoods.
U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who attended Saturday’s Climate Summit, said Boston is so fortunate to have Mayor Walsh and his team at Climate Ready Boston taking these threats seriously.
“Preventive methods like what Mayor Walsh has announced today in East Boston will help avoid the most catastrophic consequences to life and property,” said Markey. “We can not ignore the impacts climate change will have on our neighborhoods anymore. The Mayor is providing leadership and making sure Boston is a leader in resiliency and climate preparedness and has made the City the greenest, the cleanest and the most energy efficient city in United States. Because of Mayor Walsh’s leadership and commitment to climate action and economic development Boston has become a national model in addressing climate change. Boston is the fourth most climate vulnerable city in the U.S. and eighth city worldwide in property flood risk so this is reality now. I applaud the Mayor for being on the leading edge of preparing for climate change impacts.”