Sen. Charles Schumer Sunday called for federal officials to develop a plan that would protect Nassau County's shoreline from storms, similar to the project to defend Suffolk County's South Shore.
Superstorm Sandy battered communities in Nassau such as Lawrence, Oceanside and Freeport, but the area's coast has never been studied as a whole for protection from hurricanes and nor'easters.
"There's no comprehensive plan for Nassau County," Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview Sunday. "It's the most gaping hole in the long-term protection of Long Island."
Suffolk's shorelines, meanwhile, are getting protection under a $700 million Army Corps of Engineers plan to protect Fire Island to Montauk Point, known as FIMP.
"The same kind of comprehensive protection that is justifiably and properly being put in place for Suffolk County must be put in place for Nassau County as well," Schumer said.
He said Nassau will have to take a different path than Suffolk, to avoid the five to seven years it would take Congress to authorize a new study through the Corps.
He said the Department of Housing and Urban Development would work with local officials and engineering teams to come up with a comprehensive project for Nassau County using its Rebuild by Design competition, which was funded through the Sandy Relief Act.
"We could do in two years what it took Suffolk County 40 years to do," Schumer said.
Schumer said implementation of a Nassau plan could cost up to $1 billion. It would focus on projects such as bulkheads, levees, raising roads and other measures along the South Shore.
The Fire Island to Montauk Point area was first approved for study by the Corps in the 1960s, Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner said. The latest version has gone on since the 1990s and only received a renewed sense of urgency following Sandy in October.
Under HUD's Rebuild by Design program, 10 teams were selected from 143 to come up with resiliency measures. Schumer said HUD should direct some of those teams to look at Nassau County, consult with local officials, and come up with a plan.
County spokesman Brian Nevin said in a statement, "The County welcomes HUD to join us in the ongoing rebuilding and mitigation efforts."
Schumer said he's confident about Nassau County's chances in the competitive process.