A firefighter wades through flood waters on Long Wharf in Boston during a winter storm on Jan. 4. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Cities that designed protections for past floods find future ones may be worse, but changes carry huge price tags
BOSTON— Steven Miller watched the flooding of New York City during superstorm Sandy with a mixture of awe and dread. If New York’s subway tunnels could be inundated, he wondered, what about Boston’s “Big Dig,” the road network under the city and harbor?
Mr. Miller, a geologist at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, helped develop a computer model to answer that question. It concluded that while the Big Dig could handle the floods of the past, it couldn’t withstand what was predicted for the future. Neither would entire Boston neighborhoods.
A glimpse of that future arrived earlier this month when a severe winter storm walloped Boston. A tidal surge pushed Boston Harbor to the highest level ever recorded by the National Weather Service and sent icy water into the streets of several neighborhoods.