City, county and state officials gathered on the boardwalk Sunday to mark the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, where they praised Long Beach’s first responders and recalled how the community came together in the aftermath of historic flooding.
“We still face many challenges,” City Councilwoman Anissa Moore said. “There are hundreds within our community who feel the impact of Sandy everyday. We remain united and committed to seeing all of them return home.”
The ceremony, at Edwards Boulevard, was held a day after a powerful nor’easter caused significant flooding in the Canals, West End and other neighborhoods, which many residents said served as a reminder of the barrier island’s vulnerability to severe weather.
Elected officials noted a number of large-scale projects that are in works to protect the city from major storms like Sandy, including a $230 million Army Corps of Engineers project currently underway to fortify the beach, along with a $20 million plan to protect the city’s critical infrastructure along Reynolds Channel, which was seriously damaged by the storm.
That project includes steel bulkheads along the city’s northern waterfront, from National to Monroe boulevards, as well as a 33-million-gallon-per-day pump station and storm water infrastructure upgrades. The project, officials said, is expected to be completed by October 2021.
The city is also moving forward with a separate, $12.5 million bulkhead project along public shoreline on the bay using Community Reconstruction Program funding. The city also launched a program to help homeowners rebuild private bulkheads along Reynolds Channel, amid criticism from residents who said that the CRP plan called for protecting the city’s entire north shore.
Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers recently launched a study, the Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management and Feasibility Study, last year to investigate potential ways to reduce the risk of coastal erosion, wave action, storm surge, flooding and severe winds, all of which were seen during Sandy. Covering about 200 miles of back bay shoreline in Nassau and Suffolk, the study, which is expected to be completed in three years, calls for building structures like floodwalls and levees to protect against storms and flooding.
Nassau County Legislator Denise Ford, Assemblywoman Missy Miller, City Council members Scott Mandel, and Chumi Diamond, Acting City Manager and Police Commissioner Mike Tangney and others recalled how the community came together during and after the storm.
Ford reflected on the resiliency of residents, first responders, teachers and school officials, but noted the challenges that the city continues to face, including the need for a medical facility following the closure of Long Beach Medical Center after the storm, and the “hundreds” of residents who have yet to return home.
“We still need a vibrant medical facility,” she said. “Our infrastructure needs to be hardened even more and we need to get those bulkheads built.”
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said that the community remains vulnerable to future storms and that many residents are still displaced.
“We have come a long way and our recovery has been remarkable, but there is so much more to do,” he said. “So many people do not find themselves home, and so much of our communities remain vulnerable. Certainly, we know more storms are coming and much more has to be done. Let us remember that spirit of community that guided us in the weeks and days after Sandy, and let us remember there’s so much work to do so we will never have to revisit that devastation again.”
Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who was chief of the Island Park Fire Department when Sandy hit, recalled how firefighters, police officers and other first responders came together that day, but also noted how residents are struggling to rebuild their homes, while some are dealing with fraudulent contractors.
“It really brought out the best of people,” he said, “and unfortunately, it still brings out the worst in people, who continue to take advantage of those who suffered due to Hurricane Sandy.”