Fire Island Light House --
Earlier today, leaders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, gathered with elected officials and project partners at Fire Island Lighthouse, Bay Shore, NY, where an official ceremony kicked off commencement of construction for a major coastal-storm risk-management project. The Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Project will reduce flood risk for Long Islanders along vulnerable areas of 83 miles of coastline in Suffolk County from Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point. This comprehensive, $1.7 billion project includes a variety of features to reduce coastal flood risks.
“The long and winding road to realize the massive and impactful Fire Island to Montauk Point project took decades to travel and ends here with many miles of fortified dunes and berms, beach renourishment, back bay protections and funds to raise thousands of homes. I am proud, as part of the Superstorm Sandy Relief Law, I fought for and delivered the 100% federal cost share that broke the years-long inaction on this vital effort to protect Long Islanders who have suffered repeatedly from storms and flooding along the South Shore,” said Senator Charles Schumer.
“I commend the Army Corps of Engineers for the many hours of hard work that were poured into the different phases of the Fire Island to Montauk Point project (FIMP),” said Senator Kirstin Gillibrand. “The south shore of Long Island has seen its fair share of extreme weather events with many Long Islanders still feeling the impacts of Superstorm Sandy. This project will replenish the many beaches damaged by past storms and will look to reduce the risk that flood surges pose for the vulnerable south shore communities.”
New York District Commander Col. Matthew Luzzatto stated, “Today is a great day for Long Islanders who have been waiting many years for a project of this magnitude to reduce flood risk to their property and communities. This project represents another step in the process of increasing coastal resiliency throughout our Area of Responsibility as we’ve done in multiple communities such as Coney Island, Long Beach, Fire Island to Montauk Inlet, and East Rockaway, where work is currently ongoing. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District personnel, and our federal, state, and local partners are committed to executing this historic civil works initiative as we continue to work hand in hand to address the region’s toughest challenges.”
Governor Kathy Hochul said, "This project will safeguard Suffolk County communities from severe storms and sea level rise, essential for preserving Long Island’s treasured natural resources for future generations. I applaud the sustained, collaborative work of State, Federal, and local partners in achieving this significant milestone, and I look forward to continue working together to protect Long Island’s coastline from the effects of extreme weather brought on by climate change."
Congressman Lee Zeldin said, “This is an historic day for Long Island as we take the most significant step yet toward making a reality this long overdue effort to improve and secure the long-term health and viability of Long Island’s environment, economy and coastal way of life. FIMP has been among my top priorities since I came to Congress in 2015, and my team and I worked tirelessly to successfully secure authorization for FIMP during the 116th Congress, through December 2020 appropriations legislation. I am grateful to the Army Corps and all the local stakeholders for their continued commitment to efficiently move forward and finally get this underway for Long Islanders.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “As the state partner in this decades-long, sustained effort to protect Long Island’s coastal communities, New York State DEC is working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce flood risks for Long Islanders. Year after year, our changing climate is driving an uptick in flooding and severe storms. To protect our communities and our natural resources, we must work together to increase resiliency, reduce climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, and ramp up renewable energy sources. With strong federal, state, and local partners, we are better prepared to meet the challenges of our changing climate.”
“With the threats of extreme weather becoming more and more common, we simply cannot leave our coastlines vulnerable,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Superstorm Sandy showed us just how important planning for the future is, and the FIMP project will not only help strengthen miles of our shoreline and reduce storm damage but will help make coastal communities along our south shore which are vital to the local economy more resilient.”
The first part of the FIMP dredging project involves removing over 1.5 million cubic yards of sand from Fire Island Inlet and strategically placing it on updrift and downdrift beaches to reduce erosion and strengthen coastal resiliency. Approximately 802,000 cubic yards of sand will be placed along Gilgo Beach and 716,000 on Robert Moses State Park, respectively. This contract also includes the construction of coastal process features in Robert Moses State Park which are designed to enhance piping plover habitats.
The work is 100 percent federally funded under Public Law 113-2, the Emergency Supplemental Bill passed shortly after Superstorm Sandy. Major project elements include:
● Structure elevations and building retrofits for approximately 4,400 structures in areas subject to high-frequency flooding
● A four-pronged Breach Response Plan for barrier islands evaluating potential actions for breaches resulting from severe storms and tidal surges
● Beach and dune fill on shorefronts, with renourishment approximately every four years for up to 30 years after project completion
● Inlet bypassing at the federal navigation channels
● Removal of existing groins/jetties at Ocean Beach on Fire Island
● Feeder beach construction at Montauk Beach. (A feeder beach is an artificially widened beach that nourishes down-drift beaches)
Coastal Process Features designed to replicate natural processes and enhance shorebird habitat.
Historically, Long Island’s barrier islands and south shore mainland communities in Suffolk County have been battered by severe storms. In fact, The State of New York has been impacted by 84 tropical or subtropical cyclones since the 17th century. In addition to Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that eroded nearly 45 percent of beach sediment in some areas, the worst occurred during the 1930’s – before hurricanes were given names.
On September 21, 1938, a category 3 hurricane known as The Long Island Express unexpectedly came ashore, resulting in the deaths of dozens of people in eastern Suffolk County, mainly in Westhampton Beach. The storm also caused hundreds of fatalities as it swept through New England.
Over the years, the New York District has been restoring damaged areas of Suffolk County’s coastlines. Most recently, from 2014-19, the Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet (FIMI) Project provided an expedited approach to construct a stabilization effort independent of FIMP. A one-time initial construction project to repair damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, seven million cubic yards of sand was placed on the shoreline and several miles of protective dunes were built.
The New York District will lead construction efforts in concert with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the non-federal sponsor, in cooperation with Suffolk County, the Towns of Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton and Easthampton. The Army Corps will also work closely with the National Park Service (NPS), Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) ─ each are important partners ensuring protection of endangered species and environmental sensitivity along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline.