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Army Corps releases tentative plans for coastal flood mitigation measures

The funding will go toward studying flood mitigation

The funding will go toward studying flood mitigation efforts in communities such as Island Park.  Credit: Chris Ware

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hosting two public meetings starting Wednesday on a $6 million Nassau County Back Bays study of flood prevention efforts for communities along the South Shore and recommends raising 14,000 homes.

The study also recommended floodproofing 2,500 businesses and industrial buildings near the water spanning from East Rockaway to East Massapequa and South Oyster Bay facing Jones Beach Island. Raising the nearly 14,000 homes is estimated to cost more than $3 billion.

The Back Bays Study began five years ago to review storm surges, flooding and coastal erosion that caused an estimated $65 billion in damage from Superstorm Sandy to South Shore communities nine years ago, according to the report.

The Army Corps is presenting its plans during two virtual meetings, Wednesday and on Oct. 6. The tentative plans are still subject to final approval by local and federal officials and a Congressional vote.

"The Nassau County Back Bays Study outlines important strategies to protect our South Shore from the next major coastal storm. We need to continue hardening our shorelines and floodproofing homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure in order to ensure our residents’ safety in the years ahead," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement.

The study estimates the region could sustain at least $1 billion in annual damage in the next 50 years if no flood improvements are made. The study area includes 350,000 people, roughly a quarter of the population of Nassau County and 100,000 assets worth a projected $60 billion.

Proposed improvements include raising businesses and industry 3 feet above ground and protecting, walls, door and windows from storm surge.

The study reviewed adding flood walls to protect critical infrastructure, storm surge barriers and natural flood control measures.

However, the study found that storm surge barriers and cross-bay barriers, or tidal gates, did not reduce water levels and in some cases would increase flooding in certain areas.

There is no plan yet on what federal funding would be available for the proposed projects. The cost-share for similar projects has traditionally been covered by 65% federal and 35% local funding, but it has not been set for this project, Army Corps officials said.

Funding for the study was spearhead through the U.S. Senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

"‘From the day Superstorm Sandy struck, Sen. Schumer has fought long and hard to push forward this study to improve the Back Bays and South Shore flood protections," Schumer's spokesman Angelo Roefaro said.

Alternative proposals would call for 46,000 flood wall around the City of Long Beach along the barrier island facing Reynolds Channel.

The city is working with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery to add $20 million in bulkheading in Reynolds Channel to protect critical infrastructure including the city’s wastewater treatment plant, water purification system, electric substation and the Long Island Rail Road.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said "time is of the essence" for the flood improvements as sea levels rise and storms intensify.

"It’s been nine years since Superstorm Sandy, and South Shore communities need meaningful storm protections," Kaminsky said. "This study, while welcome, is just words on paper without action and needs to lead to real funding and deliverables as soon as possible. This must go from concepts on a page to actual, physical storm hardening."

Correction: A previous version of the story incorrectly stated the population of Nassau County, as listed in an Army Corps report. The study area includes 350,000 people, roughly a quarter of the population of Nassau County.

Army Corps Back Bay virtual meetings

Sept. 29, 6 — 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 6., 1 — 2:30 p.m.

To learn more, visit https://www.nap.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Nassau-County-Back-Bays-Study/

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