Letter: Don't rebuild along beachfront

Dune road on Fire Island now ends at Dune road on Fire Island now ends at a breach created by Superstorm Sandy, 100 yards east of Moriches Inlet, as seen looking south from Moriches Bay. (Oct. 31, 2012) Photo Credit: John Roca

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Now that the devastation to the urbanized barrier beaches of Long Island is being evaluated, there are already cries of "we will rebuild" -- forgetting, as always, the hazards of a rising sea level ["Help region get back on its feet," Editorial, Nov. 9]. The flooding and devastation apply to the expensive urban infrastructure, but there are also thick layers of sand deposits.

This washover sand indicates the natural method for island preservation. In the 12,000 years since the end of the ice age, our barrier islands have migrated landward about 100 feet per century. The gradual encroachment of wind, waves and tides undermines the dunes and pushes the beach and dune sand back across the island. For Sandy, it was 500 feet.

The sand should stay there! It marks the proverbial line in the sand where the ocean processes will now operate, and where the center of the island should be. Yet, the bulldozers are already out there, pushing the sand back into the ocean to make dunes.

The first 500 feet of the high-tide line should be abandoned, once the debris is removed, and returned to the natural system to let nature determine where the new beach and dunes will be. This will usually mean the loss of two blocks of homes and stores, the Ocean Parkway and Dune Road -- a terrible disaster!

But one has only to view the current homes, etc., on beaches to see where the effects of 50 years of "we will rebuild" have brought us.

Fred Wolff, Ridge

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Editor's note: The writer is an emeritus professor of geology at Hofstra University.

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