Nearly five and a half years after Hurricane Sandy, the Town of Hempstead received more than $1.7 million in Community Reconstruction Disaster recovery funds from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for the installation of water drainage improvements in Inwood and Woodmere.
Besides improving drainage, the funds will also be used to mitigate flooding in high risk areas by installing backflow prevention devices and increasing the pipe capacity of low lying areas.
The project is part of the federally funded and state administered NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which was established in 2013 to coordinate statewide recovery efforts after Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee and is overseen by the GOSR.
“The Town of Hempstead will continue pursuing all available avenues to alleviate and prevent flooding,” Supervisor Laura Gillen stated in a news release. She also noted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support.
Deputy Director of GOSR’s Long Island Community Reconstruction program Laura Munafo said that “backflow prevention devices may not be the most glamorous or visible infrastructure projects but they are among the most important to prevent flooding,” she stated. “It’s an example of grassroots community coordination and cooperation at its best.”
The improved infrastructure provides environmental health benefits as well, officials said. The drainage system will filter pollutants that currently contaminate nearby waterways such as Cedar Point Lake, Doxey Brook, Fosters Brook Lower, Head of Bay, Lagoon, Motts Basin and Motts Creek. “We’ll be protecting our homes and protecting our environment all at the same time,” Gillen said.
Governor Cuomo mandated that the reconstruction program be inspired by current residents and business owners who are looking to become active in the communities’ recovery. The purpose of the project is to involve residents by empowering them to make recommendations.
After what was considered by many as a superstorm, the flooding caused either a blockage or closing of many vital roadways in low-lying areas, along the South Shore. “We are significantly improving our communities by making our infrastructure more resilient to future storms and reducing recurrent flooding,” Councilman Bruce Blakeman stated. “Our objective with this and all storm mitigation projects is to reduce property damage and the cost of responding to flood emergencies.”
In the Five Towns, and other communities across Long Island and the state, residents met several times with a broad spectrum of state officials to brainstorm ideas, discuss what the communities needed and to understand how it could be done, beginning in 2013.
Town officials believe that project design will get under way this year, and construction to begin as early as next year.