As the winter storm season winds down, state and federal officials are moving to repair Long Island beaches damaged by the worst year for erosion since the early 1990s.
"It was an unusually active, bad winter," said Steve Couch, an engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regional office, though not as severe as the early '90s, a period that began with the Halloween storm of 1991, ran through the December 1992 nor'easter and was capped by the March 1993 nor'easter.
Even as the corps is devising a fix for nor'easter damage this month to the sea wall that protects the main road through Asharoken, state parks officials have begun repairing more than a decade of storm damage to beaches along Fire Island.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation hired a contractor who Monday began placing 200,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach at Robert Moses State Park Field 5. Without the repair - which will take about a month - the beach would have been unusable this summer, parks regional director Ronald Foley said.
The sand is being taken from a 400,000-cubic-yard emergency stockpile at the western edge of the park. The project will cost just under $1 million and is being paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements for past damage.
At Fields 4 and 5, more than 300 feet of beach depth has been lost in the past decade, Foley said. This project should recoup the loss at Field 5, he said, but there are no funds to replenish Field 4. Whether it will be open this summer remains uncertain.
Starting last Friday, parks and state Department of Transportation employees moved 5,000 cubic yards from the stockpile to a 1,000-foot-long eroded section along Ocean Parkway located west of the park and 1.2 miles east of the Nassau-Suffolk line.
In that area, storm damage had moved the high tide line closer to the pavement; high tides that had reached 150 feet from the pavement got as close as 60 feet after the winter storms. The first sand transfer over the weekend extended the beach out about 30 feet, Foley said. Another 15,000 cubic yards of sand may be spread in the area over the next month after officials gauge the impact of the first loads. There is no cost estimate yet for the project, which is paid for by the parks agency and the state transportation department.
And in Asharoken, because of severe damage to the sea wall - which was built as an interim project to reverse damage from the 1992 storm - the Army Corps' New York office made a recommendation to Washington on Friday for a repair costing $1.5 million to $3.5 million, spokesman Kenneth Wells said. He said he could not provide details until headquarters approves the plan.
Swept Away: Replenishing the shoreline
After the worst winter for beach erosion since the early 1990s, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation estimates that along 9,500 feet of ocean beachfront - from the water tower at Robert Moses State Park east to the park's boundary - 250,000 cubic yards of sand was swept away from July through early February.
On Monday a contractor began placing 200,000 cubic yards of sand on the beach at Field 5. It is being taken from a 400,000 cubic yard emergency stockpile in the park.