Aquafence to protect Jane’s Carousel from floods

It was a photo seen by people across the city and world as SuperStorm Sandy’s floodwaters continued to rise up into homes and businesses across New York and New Jersey: Jane’s Carousel, encased in glass, surrounded on three sides by water, yet still lit brightly, like a colorful lighthouse amidst the storm.

Now, a new image has emerged, of Jane’s Carousel fortified against potential future floodwaters while currently enjoying a dry day in the sun.

A wall of 44 four-foot high marine-grade panels can now be set up in just two hours as a precautionary barrier against future storm surges. The hope is that they can help protect the carousel’s equipment and electrical parts, which were the main things damaged by Sandy.

“The carousel provides so much joy to the tens of thousands of children who visit each year, and it broke our hearts to see that put in jeopardy during Hurricane Sandy,” said carousel owner and namesake Jane Walentas.

“Local kids did a bake sale because they missed it,” explained Walentas, who hand-restored the vintage 1922 carousel over 27 years before it opened to the public in September, 2011. “We reopened in two weeks since the carousel was fine, but the electronics were damaged. . . So for my 40th anniversary, I got floodgates instead of diamonds.”

Called an Aquafence, the panels were developed in Norway in 2004 and have successfully been utilized to protect hospitals, wheat storage centers, and other critical infrastructure in Germany, Sweden, Australia, Hungary, and even North Dakota and Washington. They have been tested by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and have passed the National Standard Level 1 Certification.

“There is no reason why these panels can’t be used over 50 to 100 years,” said Adam Goldberg, director of NY operations for AquaFence. “It can be connected to bigger fences, too, and is a cost effective and viable option to implement while a city looks for long-term [storm-protection measures].”

The panels are made of aluminum, stainless steel, and PVC, and actually uses water to become more stable, so they become stronger and less permeable as water rises against it.

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