Officials, residents on Fire Island call on feds to provide emergency repairs on beaches

Fire Island to Montauk Point project in 2024 and 2025.

Jon Dowding

Oct 3, 2023, 10:26 PM

Updated 202 days ago


Brookhaven Town officials called on the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday to provide emergency work to rehabilitate Fire Island beaches.
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine says the island is one storm away from greater damage.
"We're afraid another storm will destroy a large part of the beach and Fire Island communities along the way,” said Romaine. “It's time to call for emergency dredging which we need now."
Residents of Davis Park are concerned about the impact a winter storm could have on Fire Island.
Alycia Burford, who bought a house in Davis Park, says cliffs are now popping up more often along the beaches.
"The ocean sort of just swallows up the land,” she said. “I think before we bought our house, there was a breach from Sandy right where our house is."
The Army Corps of Engineers says they plan to award contracts under the Fire Island to Montauk Point project in 2024 and 2025. They also said eligibility for emergency aid depends on several regulatory factors and policies.
Fire Island residents stressed why the help is needed now. John Lunds said breaches on Fire Island have impacts across the bay.
"If you poke holes in Fire Island, the water elevation goes like that on the mainland,” said Lunds. "Fire Island is keeping the water out of homes on the South Shore of Long Island."
The Army Corps also said they're evaluating recent storm impacts to determine if they qualify for the emergency repairs program.
See below for full statement:
“We are currently in the process of assessing last weekend storm's severity to determine its eligibility for Federal rehabilitation support. Furthermore, planned beach profile surveys are set to take place this October between Ocean Bay Park and Davis Park. This is aimed at discerning the present conditions and any forthcoming needs for periodic beach nourishment under the Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point (FIMP) project, contingent upon the availability of federal and non-federal funds.
It's crucial to note that decisions concerning eligibility for emergency aid are grounded in regulations and policies pertaining to storm intensity and damage extent on a National basis.
New York District is continuing to work with our partners at the State of New York and Long Island to reduce risks to the life and property due to future storm events. In winter of 2022 five inlets on the south shore were dredged, depositing millions of yards of sand on south shore beaches to bolster their resilience. New York District also completed maintenance dredging at the Fire Island Inlet and placed sand at Gilgo Beach in the Town of Babylon. Given the substantial damages incurred during the extraordinary storm event of October 2019, western communities spanning Saltaire to Seaview will undergo emergency beach replenishment this winter, 2023. Notably, the delay in this response was due to the recent procurement of funds for beach repairs.
Unfortunately, the damages in communities from Ocean Bay Park to Davis Park during that same October 2019 storm did not meet the criteria to warrant eligibility for emergency support. In addition, the winter storms of 2022-2023 did not meet the criteria of an extraordinary event by federal law, thus, impacted coastal projects from these storms did not qualify for emergency assistance.
Looking ahead, the New York District, in partnership with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, has plans to award contracts 4 and 3 under the Fire Island to Montauk Point Project (FIMP) project in 2024 and 2025, respectively. These contracts will cover areas from Cupsogue to Westhampton Beach. The additional project at Downtown Montauk, fully financed under FIMP, is scheduled for an earlier completion as an option under the newly awarded PL84-99 emergency repair contract. Collectively, these endeavors will deposit around 1.5M cubic yards of sand along Long Island's south shore.
We’re actively evaluating recent storm impacts through inspections and surveying of completed contracts, with the goal of determining their inclusion in the PL84-99 program. Future projects include the Ocean Beach well relocation and groin removal on Fire Island, and non-structural measures, such as home elevations, in mainland Long Island communities. These will be funded entirely by federal expense.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer's response to beach rehabilitation:

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