While NYC’s subways flooded during Sandy, officials saw the storm coming and were able to shut down, pump, and reopen the system in an orderly fashion. But are there any structures in place for if we don’t have days or hours of notice that subways might flood?
The idea is a simple one: rather than retrofitting tunnels with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project aims to use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters. […]
Work on the plug began in 2007, after Ever J. Barbero, a West Virginia professor whose specialty is the use of advanced materials in engineering, was contacted by a Homeland Security official looking for outside-the-box ideas on ways to keep a subway system from flooding if an underwater tunnel were breached — by a terrorist bomb, for example.