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City's First Line Of Defense Against A Hurricane? Mayor's Office To Roll Out Sandbags In Lower Manhattan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Sandbagged!

Nearly seven years after Superstorm Sandy decimated the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration has finally come up with a temporary plan to protect part of lower Manhattan -- glorified sandbags.

Pasanella and Sons, a wine store on South Street, was literally swamped by Sandy.

"The white line here is the line of the water," Marco Pasanella said, showing CBS2's Marcia Kramer on Monday just how high the water rose in his establishment.

"That high? That's like five and a half, six feet," Kramer observed.

Sandbags similar to these are expected to be deployed around lower Manhattan to help in the case of another hurricane hitting the city. (Photo: NYC OEM)

"Yeah, it's a lot of water, Pasanella said.

Which is why Pasanella said he's is underwhelmed by the city's plan to install four-foot high sandbags as its first line of defense against another storm.

"It doesn't exactly leave me brimming with confidence," Pasanella said.

The sandbags will be installed from the Brooklyn Bridge to Wall Street. It's about a mile and there will be 18 gaps, so pedestrians can get to the Esplanade. And officials say that the sandbags are aesthetically challenged, which is another term for ugly.

"They're not pretty. Adaptation is not pretty, but it's going to keep us safe," said Robert Freudeberg of the Regional Plan Association.

Artist renderings show the long snake-like orange barricades due to be installed sometime this summer. The city will ask artists to prettify them, so, hopefully, they'll end up looking like the more attractive ones in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

"And ahead of a storm, we're going to fill in the gaps in in that alignment with tiger dams, which are large water-filled tubes," said Benjamin Krakauer of the city's Office of Emergency Management.

Activists see a number of problems. First, it's a temporary fix. The lifespan of the sandbags is about five years.

"The whole premise of the interim flood protection measures program is to address the hazard that exists today, while long-term resiliency measures come on-line," Krakauer said.

What are the long-term measures?

"Right now, the mayor's office is working on it," OEM's Heather Roiter said.

Another issue is the fact that the sandbags stop at Wall Street.

"We're glad they're finally working on an interim plan, but the interim plan has no plan from Wall Street down to the Battery," said Catherine McVay Hughes, the former chairperson of Community Board 1.

Hughes said that leaves another mile of waterfront unprotected.

"This area was devastated," Hughes said.

The new sandbags are expected to cost $3.5 million.

For more on hurricane preparedness, please click here.

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