SCHUMER REVEALS: ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS HAS SPECIAL POWERS TO REACT TO EMERGENCIES LIKE ONE NOW UNDERWAY IN SUFFOLK FROM RECENT STORMS THAT WASHED AWAY ESSENTIAL BARRIERS; SENATOR CALLS ON CORPS TO STEP IN AS LOCAL COMMUNITIES FEAR RISK OF FLOODING AS MORE STORMS LOOM
Schumer Says October Storms, Including Two Nor’easters, Battered Suffolk Shores & Stabilization Projects Like West Of Shinnecock Inlet & Fire Island Inlet To Moriches Inlet; Thanksgiving Storm Possible, Too
With Damage Already Done to Public Infrastructure And Access Roads, Communities Like Southhampton, Brookhaven, Islip & Others At Breach Risk, Schumer Says Feds Must Add Sand & Lend Engineering Hand
Schumer: Army Corps Should Use Law On Books To Assist Suffolk ASAP
Standing with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, and Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has special powers to react to recent storm-generated emergencies locally that have washed away critical barriers, damaged infrastructure, flooded roadways and risk more damage to local communities working feverishly to prevent future breaches. Schumer demanded the USACE use those powers to step in and deliver much-needed sand, engineering and infrastructure assistance to Suffolk County as it grapples with the very real possibility that this week could bring new storms and surges that deliver more damage.
“Today, we are here to say to our friends at the Army Corps: dig in, quite literally, and lend a hand here in Suffolk, because we need emergency help as winter looms,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The recent storms walloped Suffolk and damaged barriers, flooded roadways and impacted infrastructure requiring emergency stabilization to protect the investments already made and those forthcoming.”
“Over the course of the last month, our outer beach along Dune road has taken a beating from mother nature, as we had multiple emergency situations with incidents of washover and coastal flooding. I want to thank Minority Leader Schumer for his leadership and working hand in hand with the Army Corps of Engineers to help prioritize the reconstruction of this dune, which will strengthen the beach for years to come," said County Executive Bellone.
“I commend Senator Chuck Schumer for his effort. Recent storms have resulted in significant damage to the dune system along Fire Island, and have compromised the integrity of sidewalks and staircases within several Town of Islip communities along this barrier island. The dune line is essential, and replenishing it will protect everyone from future catastrophic damage,” said Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter.
“We are in a vulnerable position as nature’s forces threaten to breach the barrier island but by working together at the local, county, state and federal levels we can respond adequately to address the current conditions,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.
“While our beaches have historically shown an ability to rebuild after a major storm hits, the damage suffered on the west end of Fire Island during the recent nor’easters is too extensive and cannot self-repair. The current drastic conditions seriously compromise the integrity of our barrier island that protects the low-lying communities along the south shore of Long Island. Assistance in making these repairs is critically important and should be a high priority as we head into the height of the winter storm season,” said President of the Fire Island Association Suzy Goldhirsch.
Schumer said there is no time to waste, detailed the timeline, the ongoing stabilization projects and added that the upcoming federal budget could be a leverage point in his request to compel the Corps to act fast.
Schumer demanded that USACE use a law on the books—Public Law (PL) 84-99—to provide emergency assistance to Suffolk County. Under this public law, the Corps of Engineers has authority to supplement local efforts in the repair of a flood control project, levees for example, which are damaged by a flood. Without USACE assistance, the threat of more significant damage to Dune Road, the Southampton Commercial Fishing Dock and public infrastructure is alarmingly high, explained Schumer. Schumer is calling on the Corps of Engineers to use their authority to coordinate with state and local officials to address this pressing issue with all due haste.
Schumer explained that storm damage was recently sustained at two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects in Suffolk County: the West of Shinnecock Inlet (WOSI) Interim Storm Damage Reduction Project and the Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Fire Island (FIMI) Stabilization Project. Two separate storms between October 10th and October 17th of this year caused significant losses of sand along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. While the West of Shinnecock Inlet beach has a long history of erosion, the sub-tropical storm of October 10th and 11th caused severe additional erosion that resulted in an over-wash of the dune. Additional storm surges on October 16th and 17th resulted in another over-wash of the dune. Those same weather events between October 10th and 17th resulted in extensive erosion to the western communities of Fire Island and set-back dune improvements that had been made as part of the FIMI project.
Shortly after these storm events, Suffolk County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation initiated temporary emergency repairs to these projects but are seeking assistance from USACE to provide robust, more permanent restoration.
The erosion to the protective dunes and berms is significant—in some portions it amounts to multiple feet of erosion, and it has allowed for initial flooding into beach parking lots and access roads. The WOSI and FIMI projects are critical to protecting these vulnerable communities from future storm events. The damage at these sites has impacted communities of Southampton, Brookhaven, Seaview, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique and Islip, and in the Villages of Ocean Beach and Saltaire, and Corneille Estates.
The FIMI project was designed in response to Hurricane Sandy and separately, the WOSI project was conceived in 2005 and has restorative work scheduled to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, but the aforementioned storms and subsequent coastal erosion has threatened these projects. Prior to the October 2019 storms and damage to each project, approximately 450,000 cubic yards of sand was being added to the WOSI project to restore its original design profile which included beach dunes and berms; and the FIMI project was originally designed to provide coastal storm risk management from coastal erosion and tidal inundation through construction of a beach berm and dune. Both the county and the state have requested emergency assistance from USACE on these projects due to the substantial damage that was incurred.
Schumer’s November letter to USACE Chief of Engineers, Lieutenant General Semonite, regarding his push for USACE to use their authority to provide emergency assistance to the county appears below.
Dear Lieutenant General Semonite:
I write to you with an urgent matter regarding storm damage done to two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects in Suffolk County, New York and request that USACE use their authority under Public Law (PL) 84-99 to provide emergency assistance to the county. The projects that sustained damage are the West of Shinnecock Inlet (WOSI) Interim Storm Damage Reduction Project and the Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Fire Island (FIMI) Stabilization Project. The county and the state have requested emergency assistance from USACE on these projects which were substantially damaged.
Two separate storms between October 10 and October 17 of this year caused significant losses of sand along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. The West of Shinnecock Inlet beach has experienced a long history of erosion and the sub-tropical storm of October 10 and October 11 caused severe additional erosion at WOSI and FIMI. The nor’easter of October 17 further intensified the damage at these project sites. The erosion to the protective dunes and berms is significant—in some portions multiple feet—and allowed for initial flooding into beach parking lots and access roads. The WOSI and FIMI projects are critical to protecting these vulnerable communities from storm events. The damage at these sites has impacted communities of Southampton, Brookhaven, Seaview, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique and Islip, and in the Villages of Ocean Beach and Saltaire, and Corneille Estates.
Shortly after these storm events, Suffolk County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation initiated temporary emergency repairs to these projects but are seeking assistance from USACE to provide robust, more permanent restoration. Once again, I request that you use your authority to coordinate with state and local officials to address this pressing issue with all due haste.
Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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