The Next Big One: Protecting Long Island’s coast

Officials say almost the entire south shore of Long Island was impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Officials say almost the entire south shore of Long Island was impacted by Hurricane Sandy. (7/31/13)

WOODBURY - As towns along the coast continue to rebuild following Superstorm Sandy, many have been left with the decision on how to better protect our shores and nearby homes from future devastation if the next big one hits Long Island.

Officials say almost the entire south shore of Long Island was impacted by Sandy. In places like Long Beach and Fire Island, the storm surge destroyed dozens of homes, businesses and beaches.

Coastal geologist Aram Terchunian says the first step in better protecting Long Island’s coastline is to build up the beaches. Terchunian suggests widening the beaches, creating more dunes and restoring the jetties and groins.

After Sandy, crews at Robert Moses and other state parks dumped hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand to rebuild the beaches. In the Town of Hempstead, crews have already rebuilt the dunes that protect houses located just a few hundred feet away from the ocean.

Unfortunately, other parts of the Island will have to wait to see better protections put in place.

Although state lawmakers recently helped secure hundreds of millions of dollars for an Army Corps of Engineers project that will span from Fire Island to Montauk, the project won’t begin until scientists finish conducting a massive study that could take several years.

Susan Barbash, of Protect Long Island, has collected hundreds of petitions urging the Army Corps to start the project as soon as possible.

“You just hope lightning will not strike twice in consecutive years because we would not survive another Sandy,” Barbash says.

Meanwhile, homeowners have taken matters into their own hands. Many along the south shore have decided to raise their homes to protect against any future storm surges that may come with a powerful hurricane.

Whether it’s a homeowner trying to protect their family or a nonprofit working to better our beaches, many on Long Island have come face to face with decisions on how to protect against the next big storm.

What else is being done to make sure Long Island is ready for the next big one? Tune in tomorrow for Part 4 of our series, when News 12 considers the debate over what to do with the Old Inlet breach on Fire Island.

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