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10 years after Superstorm Sandy: What’s Been Done and the Road Ahead

Published Oct. 27, 2022
Updated: Oct. 27, 2022
Port Monmouth New Jersey

Port Monmouth New Jersey

Fire Island to Montauk Inlet

Fire Island to Montauk Inlet

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, quickly sprang into action in the days following Superstorm Sandy. Recovery was at the heart of disaster response following the hundred-year storm to which many resources and expertise were contributed. Collaboration with its many partners was critical to the Corps mission and having a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities. For the past 10 years, The New York District's performance during the Sandy response and recovery operations highlights this progress.

When disasters occur, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers teams and other resources are mobilized from across the country to execute response missions. Building on the Corps' experiences from Sandy, New York District has continued its efforts to respond to catastrophic events.

There have been many occasions where partnerships have been critical to project successes. Commitment and collaboration among the Corps and its valued partners combined strengths led to project success.

“Superstorm Sandy was a game-changer in every way, but the response from USACE and our partners at the federal, state, and local levels has also been unprecedented,” said COL Matthew Luzzatto, commander, New York District. “We were on the ground directly after the storm hit and have continued to work diligently within these communities to build comprehensive, long-term solutions. Our commitment to solving the Nation’s toughest engineering challenges remains strong and I look forward to working in collaboration with all of our partners as we continue to execute these vital coastal storm risk reduction projects.”

In the ten years since Hurricane Sandy, New York District has completed several projects, begun new feasibility studies and made visible progress across the region with coastal restoration completed at critical areas along the New Jersey and New York shoreline.

The District has built momentum to further enhance areas of resiliency and reducing risks from future coastal storms.


Long Beach, New York ($125M) – Construction of this project included 4 new groins and the rehabilitation of 18 existing groins, installing 284,000 tons of rock, and widening the beach with 4.1 million cubic yards to reinforce sand dunes, which play a crucial role in flood risk reduction. The project was completed in March 2020.

Downtown Montauk, New York ($15M) – This coastal storm risk reduction project was fast-tracked to provide protection for commercial businesses directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy and make them more resilient against future storms. This effort involved dune reinforcement along 3,100 ft of shoreline in an effort to provide additional measures against coastal storms.  Construction was completed in May 2016.

Coney Island, New York ($33M) – This project included the construction of 4 new T-groin structures and placement of 70,000 cubic yards of sand in Sea Gate to protect the integrity of the existing coastal storm risk reduction project at Coney Island that reduces risk to the residents of the adjacent communities.  The project was completed in June 2016.

Fire Island to Moriches Inlet, New York ($291M) – New York District placed over 7 million cubic yards of sand along the shores of Long Island to increase resiliency while also incorporating a series of house relocations into its design in Davis Park to make way for a line of protective dunes.  All coastal storm risk management features (beach and dunes) were completed in June 2020.

Elberon to Loch Arbor, New Jersey ($155M) - New York District used technical expertise and cutting-edge innovation to complete the three-mile Elberon to Loch Arbour reach portion of the Sandy Hook to Barnegat Inlet, NJ project. The erosion control project included 4.4 million cubic yards of sand placement beach fill, modification of existing outfalls and modification of an existing groin.  Construction was completed in October 2018.

“I’m extremely proud to be a part of the Sandy Recovery mission,” said Anthony Ciorra, chief, coastal restoration, and special project branch at New York District. “Everyone at all levels of government has worked so hard, but our success is due to the dedicated professionals working on these projects, day in and day out. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have had so many major successes in the ten years since Sandy.”

Another success following Sandy according to Ciorra was the formation of the Federal Leadership Resilience Collaborative.  A group of federal representatives from agencies including the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that meets quarterly to leverage resources, minimize overlap and discuss disaster prevention, and recovery efforts for New York and New Jersey’s communities. This model of collaboration is being looked at and incorporated at other locations around the U.S. to protect vulnerable communities from 100-year storms such as Sandy.

New York District is currently in the midst of executing a Superstorm Sandy Coastal Storm Risk Reduction program funded under Public Law 113-2, the Emergency Supplemental Bill passed shortly after Superstorm Sandy. This $6B comprehensive portfolio required repair and restoration of 8 existing projects–most of which were substantially completed by December 2014—less than 18 months after construction began in July 2013 at a cost of $242M. Over 15.2 million cubic yards of sand was placed on beaches for projects in New York City, Long Island, and Northern New Jersey. Another $158M effort saw the District repair 29 federally maintained navigation projects for channels and structures impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

“Sandy was a wake-up call for us, but we are better prepared today,” said Ciorra. “The 10-year anniversary is a great time to reflect on our success, but more work needs to be done to reduce our vulnerabilities and we can’t take our foot off the gas.”

Nine additional projects were authorized through the Superstorm Sandy Supplemental Bill, six of which are currently in progress.

Rockaway, New York ($702M) - New York District is currently working on a comprehensive coastal storm risk reduction project that includes construction of a reinforced steel sheet pile dune, new and extended groins with beach restoration, and re-nourishment along the Atlantic Ocean shorefront. New York District is also working on a nature-based plan with structural features to be constructed on the Jamaica Bay shoreline to address coastal storm surge flooding.  Two construction contracts totaling $340 million are ongoing along the shorefront until early 2026 while design work continues on the Jamaica Bay features with construction scheduled to start in 2025.

Fire Island to Montauk Point, New York ($1.8B) - New York District also continues to make good progress along the coastline of Long Island, specifically the south shore, using a series of solutions including the development of a breach response plan, home elevations, flood-proofing & acquisitions, coastal restoration, preserving natural resources, and adapting to sea level rise to provide additional flood risk reduction measures for approximately 83 miles of coastline when complete. Construction on the first two coastal restoration contracts is underway while design continues on the nonstructural features with the first series of home elevations scheduled to start by late 2024.

Montauk Point Lighthouse, New York ($44M) - In addition to its Fire Island to Montauk Point Project, New York District is also working on a project designed to protect the Montauk Point Lighthouse—a National Historical Landmark that was commissioned by President George Washington and built in 1796.  The existing stone revetment that protects the bluff adjacent to the lighthouse is undergoing an upgrade to portions of its structure to increase resiliency due to the close proximity of the lighthouse to the ocean, ensuring it remains a beacon for everyone to see for years to come. Construction of the new stone revetment started in March 2021 and is expected to be completed by early 2023. 

Minish Park, New Jersey ($72M) - New York District just completed the first phase of a coastal storm risk reduction project that will have the added benefit of helping revitalize a former industrial area along the Lower Passaic River in the downtown area of Newark, N.J. The first phase involved construction of 6,000 feet of new bulkhead, 3,200 feet of restored riverbank and creation of wetlands. Additional phases of the project will see construction of a 9,200-foot waterfront walkway as well as park facilities, plazas, and landscaping.  The most recent contract was completed in July 2021 with two more construction contracts scheduled for award in 2023 and 2024, respectively.

Port Monmouth, New Jersey ($265M) – New York District is in the midst of executing several contracts designed to construct a comprehensive coastal storm risk reduction project in Port Monmouth using a series of levees, floodwalls, tide gates, pump stations, terminal groins, dunes, and beach nourishment to increase resiliency for the residents of these communities. Four construction contracts have been completed with another recently awarded and two more scheduled for award in 2023.

Union Beach Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project, New Jersey ($382M) – New York District will begin construction in Spring 2023 on a coastal storm risk reduction project in Union Beach that includes a series of levees, floodwalls, pump stations, tide gates, terminal groins, dunes, and beach nourishment to increase resiliency for these communities. This area suffered extensive damage to the Raritan Bay coastline, widespread power outages & flooding, extensive damage to residential, commercial, and public property. The first contract was recently awarded and will include the construction of two terminal stone groins, a beach berm, and dunes.

Additional projects involving the South Shore of Staten Island in New York, and Passaic River Tidal Protection Area in New Jersey are also expected to begin construction shortly. New York District also recently released its findings concerning the NY/NJ Harbor and Tributaries Study, which is expected to provide additional coastal storm risk reduction options for at risk communities throughout New York City and the surrounding areas in the harbor estuary.