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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals and NYCEDC Break Ground on New Flood Wall Resiliency Project at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan

May 25, 2022

The new FEMA-funded flood protection system in East Harlem is designed to provide greater resiliency to the hospital in order to withstand a FEMA 500-year flood and ensure a better care environment

NYC Health + Hospitals, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray, and community stakeholders celebrated the groundbreaking of a new flood protection system at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan in East Harlem.

The Metropolitan Hospital Flood Wall Resiliency Project was initiated by NYC Health + Hospitals and NYCEDC to address flooding vulnerabilities on the hospital campus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded the $120 million project, which includes the construction of a perimeter flood wall and an upgraded storm water pumping system. Both will help better protect the hospital and surrounding area from significant flooding caused by heavy rain and storm surge. The hospital will now be able to withstand a 500-year flood, according to FEMA. The flood wall varies in height from 8 feet to 12 feet and includes new entrance openings with resilient floodgates of up to 35 feet in width.

“The climate crisis is here, and we must ensure that New York City is ready for more frequent and more extreme weather events, especially at critical infrastructure sites, like our hospitals,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This flood resiliency project shows federal, state, and city government partnership at its best — getting stuff done to protect New Yorkers. This flood wall will ensure the health care heroes at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan can continue fully serving their patients and helping them get better for generations to come.”

“We are grateful for the partnership with both the federal and local government to build a stronger and more resilient protection for our hospital,” said NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan Chief Executive Officer Cristina Contreras. “This comprehensive and innovative infrastructure project will mitigate the weaknesses exposed by Superstorm Sandy and provide our staff with the peace of mind of knowing that if we should experience any future natural weather disasters, the hospital and the community will be protected, and they can focus on what they do best – providing high-quality care for our patients and their families.”

“This is an exciting moment for Metropolitan as we continue to protect our health care system from extreme weather events that are happening more and more frequently,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “Metropolitan’s critical electrical systems were damaged by contaminated floodwaters during Superstorm Sandy. This flood protection system around the hospital campus will minimize risk to public health by allowing us to continue serving our patients and the East Harlem community during and after future storms.”

“NYCEDC shares the mayor’s commitment to taking bold action against climate change by building sustainable infrastructure that protects New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Andrew Kimball. “We are proud to work with our federal and city partners to oversee the construction of this project at NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan, which will safeguard the hospital and allow our healthcare workers to focus on patient care.”

The project’s protective measures will prevent future flood waters from reaching the hospital, minimizing damage to infrastructure and allowing the facility to recover and resume operations quickly after storm events. The project will reconfigure areas of the hospital campus to support the flood mitigation system, while allowing for hospital functionality, public accessibility, and emergency vehicle access. Improvements will be made to protect loading docks, harden the hospital basement’s walls, and relocate hospital services. Additionally, lighting, erosion control, fire protection and security enhancements will be made.

“New Yorkers need to know that the places they rely on are resilient to extreme weather,” New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said. “This project takes a big step toward ensuring NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan can withstand the impact of future flood events. New York State is proud to stand with our federal and local partners to make this happen.”

NYC Health + Hospitals and NYCEDC have incorporated artwork into the design of the flood wall. Local artist Miguel Luciano was selected by a committee of representatives from NYC Health + Hospitals, NYCEDC, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and community members. The artwork will help integrate the infrastructure improvements into the community, create a vibrant design, and encourage activities in the neighborhood.

“Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on our city and here in East Harlem, where flood waters from the East River crossed First Avenue,” said NYC Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Despite losing power in parts of the facility, NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan was able to continue to provide care and even accept new patients from other hospitals that were overwhelmed. This project will ensure that our community’s hospital will be even stronger and able to withstand the next storm.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan is a facility critical to the health of our neighborhood,” said New York State Assemblymember Edward Gibbs. “Patient care should never be interrupted, especially in the event of a natural weather disaster when our neighbors might be in need of care the most. Thank you to the many partners, including NYC Health + Hospitals and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, who helped make this vision for a safer facility a reality.”

“Gilbane Building Company is proud to be the construction manager on the project, working with STV, program manager and the design team including Stantec and JFK&M,” said Gilbane Building Company Area Manager Raquel Diaz. “We partnered with our Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) trades community to achieve and exceed our project goal of 35%.”

Construction on the flood protection system is scheduled to continue through the Summer of 2024. Regular updates and additional information on the project will be posted at nychealthandhospitals.org/metropolitan.