It’s been five months since Hurricane Sandy devastated many South Shore communities, but it appears that some of the areas most impacted will finally receive the necessary funding to start the process of rebuilding damaged beaches and dunes.
It’s important to understand that without proper reconstruction or adequate planting to sustain them, the dunes along our beaches will be in peril.
On March 20, it was announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had approached the leadership of both the City of Long Beach and the Town of Hempstead with a plan to build 16-foot-high dunes that will stretch along the Long Beach barrier island’s shoreline. According to a Newsday article that day entitled, “Votes Advance Beach Project,” the Army Corps is also seeking to raise Long Beach’s shoreline by as much as five feet and to rehabilitate the city’s protective jetties.
Hurricane Sandy caused an estimated $250 million in damage in Long Beach, which, according to the story, lost 3 million cubic feet of sand.
For months, residents have been hearing that the federal government was going to come forward with a major plan to help rebuild the beaches that are so vital to the economy of Long Beach and the neighboring communities of Point Lookout, Lido Beach, Island Park and East Atlantic Beach. The $150 million project would allow the engineers to dredge sand from a selected area a mile off Lido Beach and use it to rebuild the heavily eroded beach.
In 2006, a similar proposal was offered to the City of Long Beach, but was unanimously voted down.
U.S. Rep. Peter King secured $98.5 million in federal funding for a similarly designed dredging project that would have protected the shoreline from a storm such as Sandy. However a number of adversaries, many of whom don’t even live in Long Beach, undertook a vigorous campaign in opposition to the plan, claiming that the dunes would detract from ocean views and adversely affect surfing and beach volleyball.
Even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Newsday reported that some speakers at a recent Long Beach City Council hearing said they feared that the dune project could occupy too much of the beach.