Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that work will begin Monday to close the breaches on Long Island Barrier Islands caused by Hurricane Sandy. The State signed contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which hired contractors to begin work immediately at Smith Point County Park and Cupsogue County Park in Suffolk County.
Hurricane Sandy caused serious damage to the barrier beaches of Long Island, Governor Cuomo said. With the help of the Army Corps, we can start repairs to those breaches just weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit. Closing these breaches expeditiously will prevent them from getting deeper, wider and more difficult and expensive to repair.
The breaches are on the east and west sides of Moriches Inlet. The Corps concluded that closing the breaches is necessary and will pursue the closure immediately. New York State will pay its portion of the non-federal share of the project costs through the New York Works program.
In addition, Suffolk County signed contracts with the State to be the local sponsor for these closures. Since October 30, the State Department of Environmental Conservation and its local and federal partners have documented the storms damage to Long Islands coast. Through these assessments, three breaches have been identified to date:
- The Smith Point County Park breach is approximately 50 yards wide and located approximately 5,000 meters west of the west jetty of Moriches Inlet.
- The Cupsogue County Park breach just east of the east jetty of Moriches Inlet and is approximately 1,000 feet wide.
- The third breach is in the Wilderness Area of the Fire Island National Seashore. The National Park Service is conducting further assessments of the breach before determining whether it needs to be closed.
A Breach Contingency Plan was developed after the Westhampton breach of the 1990s to expedite the closure of breaches and to protect the bay communities and infrastructure, as well as reduce costs. Through the implementation of the Breach Contingency Plan, and the well-established working relationships of the county, state and federal agencies, the Cupsogue and Smith Point breaches will be closed in an extremely expedited time frame.
Under the cost-sharing arrangement in the Breach Contingency Plan, the federal government would pay for 65 percent of the costs to close the breaches and the remaining 35 percent will be paid by the State and Suffolk County.
"The Army Corps of Engineers is pleased to be able to work with our partners in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to quickly and safely close the breaches caused by Hurricane Sandy," said New York District Commander Col. Paul E. Owen. "With prior planning done through the Breach Contingency Plan, were looking forward to closing the breaches swiftly to repair the barrier island."
"The Breach Contingency Plan lays out the steps necessary to rebuild the breached sections of Long Island," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "A barrier island breach can result in higher tides and storm surges for bay-side communities which expose them to increased flood hazard through the winter storm season. The New York Works program and DECs solid partnerships with the Army Corp, other federal agencies and Suffolk County has enabled this project to be expedited so we can begin the recovery process for Long Islands beaches."