NEW YORK -- Roy Messaros, a coastal/hydraulic engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District explains how his role is key to a project’s success and how educating the public about the Army Corps’ mission– in the field and classroom - is a gratifying aspect of his work.
“A coastal/hydraulic engineer is interested in understanding how the forces of moving water in a floodway and volume of that water influence what we are looking to protect and what we are looking to build,” says Messaros.
He is involved with two aspects of hydraulics – riverine or river flow and coastal – and does both kinds with the Army Corps for various flood risk management projects and beach restoration projects.
His role is an important part of a project’s success. “Right now we are looking at the effects that Hurricane Irene had on one of our major flood risk management projects – the Green Brook Flood Control Project, located in north-central New Jersey, that’s still under construction. We were able to identify lessons learned from this storm event that could potentially be used to improve this and other projects.”
The Green Brook Project is one of the largest Civil Works flood risk reduction projects in the country, designed to help communities that suffer from chronic flooding. With the recent injection of funds from the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus program, the District was able to move forward on multiple pieces of the complex project, which involves levees, floodwalls, pump stations, gate closures and more.
While the project is not completely done, residents and officials there said they noticed a big difference from previous storms and the pieces in place helped to mitigate what could have been a much worse flooding situation. Messeros also noted there were also some lessons learned afterward.
“We have two road closure structures – basically large steel sliding doors - that cut off the Raritan River and Green Brook flood waters from coming into the project. When the flood water started to rise during Irene, some water seeped through these closure structures. Going forward it may be prudent to have a better way to minimize any seepage which could include the use of plastic tarps with sand bags to improve the closure."
Messaros also spent a great deal of time walking around the project site after Irene and talking with the community. “Meeting with the public and speaking face-to-face with them goes a long way. It doesn’t pay for their property damage, but it gives them some gratification that the Corps is on the ground and trying to understand what they’re feeling and experiencing. That we have a vested interest.”
He says he is fortunate because he also has the privilege of relaying the Army Corps’ mission and his knowledge to engineers of the future as an adjunct professor at Stevens Institute in Hoboken, N.J., where he teaches graduate courses in water resources and hydraulics.
“I take my students, many of which live in flood prone regions, out to the Army Corps project sites and they’re amazed at what we are doing and have a better understanding of our mission. It makes me feel great when they tell me ‘If I didn’t go out and see that levee and walk the project it just wouldn’t have given me the same sense of what was happening here.’ It’s a win-win for me - A win for the day job and a win for the night job!”