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Beach erosion at state parks not significant, official says

Jones Beach on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, the

Jones Beach on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, the day after a nor'easter that officials said caused extensive flooding at all Long Island state park beaches. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Monday’s storm caused extensive flooding at all Long Island state park beaches, but no more than in previous nor’easters and any erosion was not expected to have significant or long-lasting effects, a state parks official said Tuesday.

New York State Parks Deputy Regional Director for Long Island George Gorman said all seven beach areas — including Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Heckscher State Park, the Montauk beach near Hither Hills, Orient Beach State Park, Sunken Meadow State Park and Wildwood State Park — also experienced minor to moderate erosion but that any lost sand would be naturally replenished.

“This storm had a significant impact on the beaches similar to some major storms that we’ve seen, but not to the level of a major hurricane or superstorm Sandy,” Gorman said in an interview Tuesday morning as he was about to start surveying damage along the beaches.

Gorman said those looking forward to visiting the beaches when the weather gets warmer will have nothing to worry about.

“We’re not concerned regarding lasting effects — we know that the water will recede and the sand will naturally be replenished along the beaches in the spring and summer so there’ll be no problem with accommodating visitors,” Gorman said.

Gorman said overnight reports from state parks managers that are still being compiled showed that while parts of Jones Beach were flooded, more damage was prevented because of Sandy funding that allowed a retaining wall to be constructed before Monday’s storm.

“The west bath house area going east to Field Number 6 is completely underwater, but the walkways and boardwalk facility areas have not flooded — there’s no damage,” Gorman said. “As a result of funding from superstorm Sandy, over the weekend and [Monday] morning we built a wall of sand in front of the central area of the beach that protected the boardwalk and central mall facility building.”

Still, the theater was flooded, with water rising above the orchestra area, Gorman said, adding there was no erosion on the ocean side and minimal erosion on the bay side.

As another example of flooding at the beaches, Gorman said there was an estimated “80 to 90 feet” of erosion at Robert Moses State Park along the entire shoreline.

At Orient Beach there was moderate erosion along the Gardiners Bay shoreline and the kayak area was flooded. “There is erosion along the entrance road but the road is open,” Gorman said.

There was some flooding in grassy areas, shoulders, picnic areas and the golf course at Sunken Meadow and there was about 10 feet of erosion on the main beach and double that amount at the Field 2 beach.

In Montauk, where Gorman said by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday it was determined that there was “moderate” erosion, he added, “The beach is underwater up to the beachfront entrance to Hither Hills.” Gorman said any other flooding or damage at the other parks was not immediately available.

In Babylon Town, erosion was the major concern, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said, with water reaching up to the roadway of Ocean Parkway at high tide. Overlook beach is now flat, he said, with six to eight feet of height taken away. All of the town’s beaches suffered some erosion, Bonner said, with a total loss of tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand.

In Ocean Beach on Fire Island, Ocean Beach Police Officer Michael Mills said that by 8 a.m. Tuesday, “Between the ocean and the bay we have flooding up into there — the water is about 2 feet deep and then some on Bay Walk on the bay side.”

Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau Lt. John Fitzgerald said that on Fire Island, “There’s beach erosion and flooding on the inner roads, but everything is passable.”

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said it could be another day or two before crews are able to reach the barrier island for a close look at the effects of the storm, including any possible damage to the town’s Atlantique marina.

With Sarah Armaghan and Denise M. Bonilla

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