In February, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expedite funding for a boardwalk with stronger materials to protect against future storms. If the city had chosen to rebuild the structure with the identical design and materials, it would have been forced to borrow the money — $25 million — and wait for reimbursement from FEMA. But with a design that incorporates more durable and sustainable materials, the project should attract upfront funding under FEMA’s hazard mitigation program and in accordance with the Stafford Act, the federal law that helps states and localities implement long-term mitigation measures after major disasters.
LaCarrubba said that a majority of residents who took part in public surveys said they prefer a boardwalk that is a combination of wood and concrete. Added Schnirman, “Eighty-eight percent of our residents said very clearly, after four focus groups and a public hearing, build our boardwalk back stronger, do it once and do it right, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Because the Long Beach project must meet certain code requirements due to its height and because of the more expensive hardwood, the number of ramps that must be replaced and labor costs, LaCarrubba said, the overall cost is significantly higher than other boardwalk rebuilds. The protective “wave-break” wall alone is expected to cost several million dollars.
“It spikes those costs up a great deal,” LaCarrubba said. “But we’re confident that these things are going to be recognized by FEMA … It would be foolish to rebuild it the same way. We want to build things stronger so that when another storm comes through, we won’t get damaged the same way again.”