The final leg of a $4.3 million state infrastructure project in...

The final leg of a $4.3 million state infrastructure project in Oakdale included raising Shore Drive to make the roadway less prone to flooding in severe storms. Credit: Richard Remmer

New York State recently completed the last leg of a $4.3 million infrastructure project in Oakdale to combat flooding spurred by rising sea levels and severe storms, a need highlighted by Superstorm Sandy.

The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery elevated Shore Drive in Oakdale as part of a three-phase project to bolster local infrastructure. The final phase road-raising project cost $3.4 million alone and came nearly a decade after Sandy, which left some Oakdale residents stranded as floodwaters swarmed the Islip hamlet’s roadways. Many homes and businesses along Shore Drive were flooded.

The project included raising a 1,000-foot section of Shore Drive and repaving the roadway to elevate the surface up to 18 inches high. Flood-prone areas along Shore Drive received drainage enhancements, including new drainage pipes, maintenance holes and catch basins, the governor’s office said.

The initiative is part of a multibillion-dollar state-led plan to protect residents against climate change and major storms. The state partnered with Dormitory Authority of the State of New York for the project, which also includes West Sayville. Katie Brennan, executive director of the storm recovery office, said in a news release that the infrastructure project will boost the community’s resilience and protect residents "during astronomical high tides."

Other phases of the project included the installation of backflow check valves and catch basins in existing storm drains in Oakdale and West Sayville, which should prevent tidal waters from entering the draining system and flooding the area. The storm recovery office also installed emergency backup generators at the community center and at Islip Housing Authority’s Ockers Gardens in Oakdale.

Beginnings of the multiphase project stretch back to 2013, when the Oakdale-West Sayville committee for the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan was formed, said co-chair Richard Remmer. He said that 30 years ago, Shore Drive might flood once a year, but the frequency has quadrupled in recent years. Flooding dumps anywhere from 6 to 18 inches of water on the roadway depending on severity, Remmer said.

"It’s become more and more of a regular occurrence and Sandy obviously highlighted it," he said, adding that the superstorm inundated Shore Drive with 6 feet of water. Flooding often left residents stranded in their homes and put an added strain on emergency services, which responded to water rescues.

"It’s great to see neighbors get to their house even if there’s a nor’easter or a tropical storm," Remmer said.

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