FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. – Months after the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded New York City with record-breaking rainfall, Fort Hamilton is on the road to recovery from storm damage.
The stretch of repeated flooding began in July 2021 when Tropical Storm Elsa worked up the East Coast, dropping 1.54 inches of rain in a single hour, and then later in August, Tropical Storm Henri dropped 4.45 inches in a day.
As if it was not enough, Ida remnants brought record levels of rain to the northeast on Sept. 1, 2021, striking New York City with more than three inches of rain in an hour, obliterating all previous records. NYC issued its first-ever flash flood emergency as torrential rain swept away cars, streets and highways turned into rivers, subway lines flooded, and airline flights were grounded, leaving New Yorkers to cope with water-logged homes, power outages, and calls for help from those trapped by the flooding. The storm was the worst natural disaster to strike the area since Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
These storms were a grim reminder that climate change is here, and according to the latest National Climate Assessment in 2018, there is a trend toward increasing precipitation in the Northeast, posing a threat to the Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure.
The assessment states, “Infrastructure currently designed for historical climate conditions is more vulnerable to future weather extremes and climate change… Flooding from heavy rainfall, storm surge, and rising high tides is expected to compound existing issues with aging infrastructure in the Northeast.”
For Fort Hamilton, Ida left behind multiple sinkholes on Taylor Field, Lee Avenue, and two parking lots, and the saturated soils, not being able to absorb much additional runoff, led to the collapse of the bluff behind the Community Club. Recognizing the immediate need to update infrastructure and repair damages, Fort Hamilton executed a $1.98 million contract last September to start construction.
According to Molly Evans, Directorate of Public Works director, this contract was special.
“Typically for our repair and construction projects, we would investigate the problem, design repairs, and hire a contractor to perform the repair work,” said Evans. “For a project of this size, the investigating, design, and procurement would normally take 6 to 12 months and another 4 to 8 months to do the repairs.”
Evans added that Installation Management Command secured $2 million in the fiscal year 2021 budget for repairs and offered it to Fort Hamilton on Sept. 16.
“Since this was FY21 funding, we needed to obligate the funds (award a contract) by Sept. 30,” said Evans. “The end of the fiscal year is very busy as we try to make sure all the current year funds are obligated. Adding this significant amount of money, which was 40% of our annual budget for repair projects, was a big deal. We essentially put together in two weeks a package that would normally take a year or more.”
This quick-turn package came together with the help and expertise from another Army garrison, Carlisle Barracks.
“The team at Carlisle Barracks Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Bethany Flynn and Kevin Kauffman, have been amazing to work with,” said Evans. “The team found a contractor with expertise in earthwork that they could use in a sole-source acquisition. We worked with the contractor, ARK Construction, to develop a design-build scope of work. This scope tells the contractor what our desired end state is, but not how to get there. ARK Construction provided a proposal to investigate the damage, develop repairs, and execute those repairs and that proposal formed the contract. It is a unique contracting method that enabled the DPW and Carlisle Barracks MICC teams to execute in two weeks.”
Evans also highlighted two members from her directorate, Max Semyonov and Drew Cavosi, for managing the construction project and keeping it on track.
Semyonov, a construction control representative, maintains quality control over the project and works closely with Cavosi, the lead and primary contracting officer’s representative. Together, they were involved in every phase of awarding the contract; now, they evaluate the contractor’s progress, and help identify and resolve any construction challenges.
“This is a base-wide project that impacts many stakeholders, such as the veterans getting haircuts at the barber shop, helicopters landing at Taylor Field, and the pool at the Community Club running in the summer,” said Semyonov. “Managing expectations on this project and staying up-to-date on all other projects currently underway and in development presented Drew and myself with an opportunity to flex our creativity muscles.”
Semyonov further highlights the team effort behind the project’s current success.
“We lean on our colleagues in DPW’s Environmental, Engineering, and Operation and Maintenance Divisions for expert advice on technical subjects,” said Semyonov. “We also rely on constructive input from our partners at base operations, AAFES, the Directorate of Emergency Services, and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. Having access to resources such as a structural engineer, fire and safety officers, geographic information system and museum data archives, and the entire physical security team allowed us to keep this project running smoothly and without any disturbance to daily operations at the garrison.”
Damage repair began as soon as the contractor was awarded, and the current progress is as follows:
- Taylor Field: 90% complete pending irrigation and topsoil
- Lee Avenue: 50% complete pending pipe replacement and asphalt
- Two parking lots: 90% complete pending pipe replacement and asphalt
- Bluff: Construction is anticipated April 1
The target date for total project completion is May 31.