By James D’Ambrosio, Public Affairs Specialist
On a summer morning as the temperature soared towards 90 degrees, residents and tourists alike along the shore of Long Island, N.Y., filled a stretch of beach before 9:30 a.m. and enjoyed the surf, sun rays and cooling breezes off the Atlantic Ocean. These recreational benefits are a byproduct of a recently-completed flood-risk reduction project in downtown Montauk conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, that provides a wider beach.
New York District personnel along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and officials from the Town of East Hampton, toured the site prior to the summer to ensure all work was completed.
Prior to the work, the community and its residents were vulnerable to flooding and damage from severe storms as the shoreline was severely eroded by Hurricane Sandy.
While there was some erosion during the winter storm season — a regularly-occurring pattern of wind, currents and wave action that creates erosion in many coastal areas — the project did its job. Since then, warm weather and calm seas have naturally transported sand back onshore in downtown Montauk, as it has most years. The work — beach fill, dune and vehicle and pedestrian crossovers — was 100 percent federally funded through the Disaster Relief and Appropriations Act of 2013 (P.L. 112.3). The project is a one-time, temporary measure reducing flood risk to downtown Montauk until a more robust project outlined in the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) study gets underway. Currently it’s being finalized and in the approval process.
“The project is working as designed to reduce flood risk to people, property and infrastructure from severe storms,” said Anthony Ciorra, chief of the Army Corps' New York District Sandy Coastal & Restoration Branch. "The fact that people can maximize summer recreation on a wider beach is a much-welcomed bonus.”
To a certain degree, sand placed on the beach is expected to be sacrificial as it absorbs the full power of the open-ocean. To that end, the Town of East Hampton, which is responsible for ongoing operations and maintenance of the project, will have to periodically add sand to the area.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the largest public engineering firm in the world with 34,000 employees around the globe, is committed to providing the highest level of service not only to residents of downtown Montauk, but to hundreds of communities throughout the nation.