Hempstead Town Repairs Sandy Coastline Damage – Calls on State, Federal Agencies to Prepare Coastal Protection Action Plan

Long Beach Island and all of the communities that comprise western Nassau’s barrier island were slammed by Hurricane Sandy over a month ago.  In the wake of the super storm, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin have been overseeing a sand dredging and shorefront replenishment project that seeks to bolster local dunes, the last line of defense for local homes and businesses against the ravages of surging Atlantic Ocean seawater.

In addition, Murray and Cullin, joined by area officials, called on state and federal agencies to update a coastal protection report, and complete associated project plans that are needed before a storm damage reduction project can commence.

“The damage to communities on the Long Beach Island during Hurricane Sandy was overwhelming,” observed Murray.  “The damage underscores the need for a comprehensive coastal protection project to move forward now to protect the barrier island from future storms and tidal surges.”

In the aftermath of Sandy, Hempstead Town has been pumping sand from the east shore flood shoal along Jones Inlet onto the decimated eastern coastline of Point Lookout.  In addition, town heavy equipment operators have been filling in breaches in the dune structure and making other shoreline repairs, along with updating coastline damage assessments.  While the town’s efforts have provided important shoreline stabilization and protection, officials point out that a comprehensive storm damage reduction project is needed now to offer a longer term and more effective defense against storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Accordingly, Murray and Cullin are requesting that the New York State D.E.C., along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, complete their update of the Long Beach Island Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction Report, which is a blueprint for a major coastline protection project.

Further, the officials want the Army Corps of Engineers to complete “plans and specifications” for the project.  The report, along with the plans, comprise key steps that need to be completed before the project is “shovel ready.” The project would entail replenishment of sand, construction of stone groins, repair of existing groins and strategic build-up of dunes, as well as other engineered measures to protect local communities from storm damage and flood surges.  The project was previously price-tagged at $100 million, with the cost to be shouldered by the federal government, New York State and the localities (Nassau County, Long Beach, Hempstead Town).

“The protection of our homes and businesses from devastating flood waters and storm damage is critical to keeping our communities on the barrier island vital and safe,” stated Cullin.

Hempstead Town’s Conservation and Waterways Department has continued a proactive coastal protection program that includes planting beach grass to build up and stabilize dunes, placement of snow fencing on beachfronts to mitigate wind erosion, as well as the aggressive dredging of local waterways accompanied by placement of dredged sand onto eroded beaches and shoreline.  What’s more, the town has even built rock revetments (bulkheads) to protect the coastline from washing away.  In fact, a December 3rd New York Times article indicated that the system of dunes built by the town mitigated Sandy-related damage.  At the same time, the town officials renewed their long-standing call for the Long Beach Island project as a more substantial and comprehensive approach to safeguarding property and residents on the barrier island.

“We’ve done our best, and have worked hard to safeguard neighbors and their homes from the ravages of storm surges on the barrier island,” said Murray.  “However, a more substantial engineered project is needed to protect families and property.”

Hempstead Town has seen damage to many of its buildings on the barrier island.  Structures in Point Lookout, Lido Beach and Lido West all sustained damage from Sandy’s flood surge.  Hempstead’s marine dredge is working to replace 400,000 to 500,000 cubic yards of sand that washed away from Point Lookout’s eastern shore in the super storm.  An additional 800,000 cubic yards of sand will still need to be replaced at Point Lookout beaches in addition to millions of cubic yards on other Hempstead Town beaches across the barrier island.

“The damage from Sandy has been brutal, and the recovery process will be long and arduous,” concluded Murray.  “We need a Long Beach Island project now to reduce the risks of this type of disaster in the future.”