The McGuires live on Armour Street, in the last house on the left. When they step out their back door, they are no more than 15 feet from Reynolds Channel. From their back deck, they could watch the sun sink below the Atlantic Beach Bridge — when they still had a back deck.
On Tuesday, at a press conference at the McGuires’ home, City Manager Jack Schnirman, City Councilwomen Fran Adelson and Eileen Goggin and Department of Public Works Commissioner Jim LaCarrubba announced a program it is starting to help residents who live on the bay rebuild their bulkheads. City officials say the program will help residents get permits, hire a contractor and finance the construction.
“This is personal for me,” said Adelson, who lives in the Canals and had to knock down her home after it was extensively damaged in the storm. “In order to help protect our neighbors in the Canals and along the water, the city is embarking on this project, and working with the residents of the city so you don’t have to come up with all of the money.”
Carol McGuire, who lives with her two children, Ken and Siobian, has been paying into a number of Allstate insurance policies for 35 years. McGuire’s bulkhead was ripped up during the storm, and all that remains is sloped, cracked concrete and rusted rebar. After previous hurricanes, McGuire said, bulkhead damage was always covered by her policy because the bulkhead was attached to her home. After Sandy, she was told that the rules had changed. Insurance money would not help her pay for a new bulkhead.
City officials said that the new bulkhead program will help residents through every step of the construction process, and eliminate much of the stress. The city will do much of the work, providing consultants to help with Department of Environmental Conservation permit applications, finding a responsible contractor, and laying out the money for the construction, reasoning that if it lumps all of the bulkheading jobs together, it will get a lower price. Residents will be required to pay the city back with yearly payments, but they can be spread over 20 years.
“We’re interested in making sure we’re protecting the residents of the city,” LaCarrubba said.