Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city is ready to begin a nearly $1.5 billion project.
The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project is both much anticipated and much debated.
De Blasio said work began at Stuyvesant Cove Park this week.
"The East Side Resiliency Project is the biggest in the nation, it will protect so many people in one of the most densely populated areas of the nation," de Blasio said. "And we have learned through experience, that we have to get ahead of this challenge and invest now."
The city will elevate park land stretching 2.4 miles from Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side to East 24th Street.
More than 100,000 people live in the area which was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.
"We've got to remember when we went through, Superstorm Sandy, that was a while ago, that it may have faded for some people's memories," de Blasio said. "But I don't think a lot of people don't forget the devastation, all over the city. We don't forget the heroism of the doctors and nursing staff in the Bellevue Hospital at NYU hospital, saving patients lives, as their hospitals were overcome by the flooding and the storm."
Hundreds of thousands of residents in Manhattan and throughout the other boroughs lost their electricity and couldn't get food or water.
During Sandy, flooding in the East Village stretched to about Avenue B, but the flood plan of the 2070s and 2080s could reach 1st Avenue and even 2nd Avenue.
The project calls for demolishing what is currently along the shoreline in order to raise the land high enough to protect the neighborhood behind it from future storm surge.
A new park will then be built on top of the raised area.
Some local residents were upset that park land would be closed during construction and some trees and wildlife would be lost. But most understood the importance of the project.
As of now, the completion date for the project is 2025.
Coastal flooding is just one of the topics the ABC meteorologists and National Geographic will tackle during an hour-long special, "Our America: Climate of Hope."
You can watch the special on our streaming apps Friday morning and on ABC7 on Saturday at 1 p.m.
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