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$50 billion Sandy bill would bolster LI shores

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, left, and Senator Charles

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, left, and Senator Charles E. Schumer, right, walk the beach in Point Lookout after a press conference on the use of Sandy funds. (Jan. 27, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The Senate is to convene today on Capitol Hill to vote on the $50.5 billion Sandy aid package -- funding that, in part, will fortify beaches, dunes, inlets and roadways against future storms on Long Island.

The vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and includes $5.4 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers restoration, replenishment and hardening projects in New York and New Jersey.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was "optimistic and worried" Sunday about the bill's chances, saying he believed he had the votes of 55 Democrats and needed only five Republicans to pass the measure.

Twelve Republicans voted for an earlier version of the bill last year, but when the House of Representatives failed to call it for a vote before the end of 2012, the job passed to a new slate of elected officials.

"We're working very hard to see that we don't lose," Schumer said during a news conference in Point Lookout Sunday to discuss projects the bill would fund, including $150 million for building dunes on Long Beach.

A House version of the bill passed Jan. 15.

"I'm very hopeful that it is going to pass," said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who called the delay last year unconscionable.

The bill, named the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, makes supplemental appropriations for federal agencies and programs related to Sandy expenses. Schumer said more than half would go to New York.

The Army Corps funding would cover emergency and long-term projects, including dredging more than a dozen inlets and fortifying an 83-mile stretch of South Shore beaches between the Fire Island Inlet and Montauk Point.

"What we're going to do is not just restore the damage that occurred from Sandy but make it better so that . . . we'll be far better protected than we are today," Schumer said.

Projects that have already been studied or approved could get money within months. That includes building dune protection along Long Beach, an effort turned down by the city council in 2006.

"It's not going to be what you saw six years ago," Long Beach Council president Len Torres said Sunday. "This plan that began then will be continued."

With Robert Brodsky

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