NEW YORK DISTRICT -- It's been three years that New York District stood up its Emergency Command Center and Recovery Field Offices in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) missions following the destruction from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In Manhattan, the worst damage came from Sandy's storm surge with shoreline communities taking the brunt of the storms punch along coastal areas of New Jersey, Staten Island, and Long Island, N.Y.
The hurricane washed away great amounts of sand and left coastal communities potentially more vulnerable to impacts from future coastal storms. Immediately following Sandy, crews from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessed Sandy's impact and determined how much sand was lost in order for engineers to begin working toward repairing coastal risk-reduction projects.
The geography of New York and New Jersey places the coastlines in the potential path of hurricanes, tropical storms and nor'easters.
Healthy beaches provide mitigation from these natural disasters by acting as a buffer between the pounding surf and homes, businesses and infrastructure located along the coast. Beaches not only provide recreation for beachgoers, fishermen and support to the tourism industry during recreation season, but also play a much more crucial role when faced with a coastal storm.
Since Sandy, the New York District has been in high tempo mode with a focus on coastal restoration work to thwart or reduce future coastal damage. Restoring coastal projects, including replacing lost sand, is extremely important in reducing coastal storm risks.
The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (PL 113-2, often referred to as the Sandy Relief Bill) was passed and authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair engineered beach projects by replacing sand lost, and to also restore beaches to their original design profiles. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a standing authority from the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Act (FCCE) (PL 84-99) to repair projects after massive storms and restore them to their pre-storm conditions. The Sandy Relief Bill provides the necessary funding to carry out this mission and authority to implement new projects to reduce risks from storms to coastal communities, and to implement previously authorized but unconstructed projects, that when completed, will reduce risks of future storm damages to vulnerable coastal communities.
Substantial completion of the FCCE projects was accomplished pursuant with the Sandy Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) Act.
The New York District made significant progress pursuant with the Sandy Authorized But Unconstructed (ABU) Program.
Since Sandy, the New York District awarded 13 Flood Control and Coastal Emergency (FCEE) contracts to repair and restore previously constructed projects impacted by Sandy and move unconstructed projects forward towards construction and advance ongoing studies.
New York District has restored several miles of shorelines to their previous conditions and restored them to their original design. Placing millions of cubic yards of sand onto eroded beaches continues to be crucial in reducing future flooding risks.
In December 2014, less than 18 months after construction began in July 2013, over 15 million cubic yards of sand were placed on beaches in New York and northern New Jersey to repair and restore eight projects that were significantly damaged by Sandy.
The Sea Bright to Manasquan Project in New Jersey was the world's largest sand placement project by volume when it was initially constructed from 1994 to 2001. It involved placing roughly 20 million cubic yards of sand along New Jersey beaches, reducing risks for multiple communities, from Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, Long Branch, Belmar to Manasquan and Asbury Park to Avon-by-the-Sea.
Anthony Ciorra, Chief of Army Corps New York District, Coastal Restoration Branch provided a project and program status.
The first of five ABU contracts for the Port Monmouth, New Jersey project was completed and turned over to the sponsor in July 2015.
In areas where the erosive forces exceed nature's ability to protect itself, seawalls, breakwaters and bulkheads can be a viable solution by providing both shoreline stabilization and coastal flood protection.
When constructed along inlets, bays and other coastal waterways, these structures also serve to keep waterways clear of sediments and debris and maintain open navigation channels.
Construction started on the Coney Island T-groins, and Contract 1 at Smith Point County Park, Fire Island Stabilization (FIMI) project, and Contract 1 of the Elberon to Loch Arbour, New Jersey project with construction scheduled to be completed sometime in FY16.
Contracts were also awarded for FIMI Contract 2 at Robert Moses State Park, Long Island, N.Y. and the Downtown Montauk stabilization projects at the eastern end of Long Island with construction on both scheduled to begin in October of calendar year 2016.
Contract 2 of Elberon to Loch Arbour was awarded in September 2015 and construction has begun and is expected to be completed in December of this year.
Repair and Restore Coastal Storm Risk Management Projects
In northern New Jersey, Sandy disrupted major long-term projects and coastal improvements have been made over the past 36 months from Sea Bright to Manasquan Project, a long-term, pre-Sandy initiative to nourish a 21-mile area of New Jersey shoreline that constantly faces erosion and to reduce risk of damage from future storms.
New York District has completed the repair and restoration of all coastal storm risk management projects impacted by the storm, with repair and restore on that last project expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“This progress reflects the District's continued commitment to storm risk management and reducing risk to coastal communities who remain vulnerable to damages from future storms,” said Ciorra.
During the past three years, coastal restoration work was accomplished with very limited interruption during a period when Federal employees were faced with a Government shutdown, workforce reduction, sequestration, furloughs, and several severe inclement winter weather conditions. The project managers and project delivery teams have done a phenomenal job in ensuring the equipment was up and operating and ensuring mission success.
The New York District continues to complete repair and restoration contracts. Contracts are underway, and the District continues to study and design new projects to reduce risks to communities from future coastal storm damages. The District is studying coastal storm risk management in various parts of New York and New Jersey and issued draft reports with project recommendations for review in many cases during 2015. These include feasibility studies in New York, such as Rockaway, Queens; South Shore of Staten Island, New York City; and Fire Island to Montauk Point; Asharoken, Long Island.
New York District's commitment to the coastal communities remains strong and has made remarkable progress three years after Sandy to reduce the risk of damage from future storms.
"The New York District has executed a vast amount of coastal restoration work, begun building previously authorized but unfunded projects, and made great progress on studies for future Coast Flood Risk Reduction projects," said Col. David Caldwell, the Army Corps' New York District Commander and District Engineer. "We have a great sense of urgency still. The New York District Team consists of a professional group of individuals and teams using their expertise and successfully accomplishing this critical mission," said Caldwell. "In doing so, we continue to develop ways to work with other agencies and State and local partners to keep the momentum and ultimately help lower many communities' risk while significantly increasing their resiliency," he added.
It's expected that if another Sandy were to hit today, there would be much lesser coastal damage to areas where beach nourishment and restoration has taken place for protection and flood and storm damage reduction, environmental coordination, permitting and monitoring was and continues to be accomplished in cooperation with partners that include the States, cities, municipalities, and sister government agencies.
-- SINCE SANDY --
New York District has accomplished final
Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Act (FCCE) projects with Sand Replenishment
• New York - 6.675 million cubic yards of sand
• New Jersey north of Manasquan - 8.514 million cubic yards of sand
• Coney Island, N.Y. - improvements to coastal storm risk management project slated to begin later in 2015
Authorized But Unconstructed (ABU) construction
• Port Monmouth, NJ - Port Monmouth, N.J. Contract I completed June 2015 including placement of 400K cubic yards of sand
• Contract 1 Long Island, N.Y. (Smith Point County Park-FIMI) 650K cubic yards
• Elberon to Loch Arbour, N.J. (Contract 1) 1.5M cubic yards
• Seagate Shore Protection Project, N.J. (groin work)
• Downtown Montauk, Long Island, N.Y.
• Fire Island to Montauk Inlet Contract 2, Robert Moses State Park, Long Island, N.Y.