New York District of the Army Corps “Extreme Storm” Determination Triggers Expedited Process for Significant Federally Funded Repairs of Coastal Damage on Eastern Fire Island
New York Officials Reaffirm Commitment to Seek Full Repair by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of Dune and Beach Projects in Suffolk County Communities Significantly Damaged by Climate-Driven Storms
Governor Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that recent seasons’ extreme coastal storms provide eligibility under Public Law 84-99 for the process to assess, fund, and repair damaged Army Corps coastal projects on Fire Island in Suffolk County. The approval allows the Corps to begin an expedited evaluation of needed repairs on eastern Fire Island while the Corps continues to assess Governor Hochul’s formal request for the repair of three other coastal projects — West of Shinnecock Inlet, Fire Island Inlet and Shores Westerly, and Downtown Montauk — to protect public safety and mitigate the severity of potential damage wrought by future storms.
“Long Island's iconic beaches are a treasured natural resource and I'm doing everything in my power to protect them for the next generation,” Governor Hochul said. “New Yorkers are grateful for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers response to our request for support to address severe coastal erosion, along with the continued support of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. I am committed to working with the Army Corps to immediately begin repairs on eastern Fire Island and at other Army Corps projects that were damaged by recent storms.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer said, “Today, we have made good progress and the Army Corps is fired up to help Fire Island. And that is a good thing because the Island is a mess from recent storm damage. But even more succinct: this is an emergency. I am glad the Army Corps has heeded this call and can now work with a designation that allows emergency dollars to be sought and used to remediate the wide damage we have seen to beaches, shorelines and inlets. I thank Brigadier General Lloyd, Colonel Young and his team at the Corps for their work and will continue to advocate for continued help across Suffolk as it relates to this storm damage.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “I am thrilled that the US Army Corps of Engineers will be starting this expedited process to address the extensive damages that the eastern Fire Island communities have recently experienced. I am committed to helping ensure this critical work begins as soon as possible, and I will also continue supporting Governor Hochul's request for the repair of the three other coastal projects. Restoring the South Shore of Long Island is one of my top priorities and I will keep fighting to help secure the federal assistance communities need.”
Earlier this month, Governor Hochul requested expedited approval of the State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for emergency rehabilitation assistance for multiple Army Corps Coastal Storm Risk Management Projects along the coast of Suffolk County in connection with excessive damage caused by storms such as Hurricane Lee and Tropical Storm Ophelia last September, and more recently in December 2023. New York’s repeated requests initiated a process under a program termed “PL 84-99" that allows the Army Corps to use significant federal repair funds to fix Corps projects damaged by storms determined to constitute an extreme weather event. The Army Corps determination today will trigger an intensive assessment of resilience measures needed in eastern Fire Island communities ranging from Seaview in the west to Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, and Davis Park to the east.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Today’s determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a critical step in New York State’s ongoing efforts to fully assess the damage wrought by recent winter storms and help bolster the resiliency of Long Island communities, especially the barrier islands on the frontline of these storms. Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, New York State is working with our local, State, and federal partners, including the Army Corps and New York’s Congressional delegation, to advance post-storm recovery and coastal restoration work in the region.”
Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine said, “With an increase in severe weather events here on Long Island, we are seeing significant damage to our coastal communities, especially the communities on Fire Island. I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their commitment to safe guarding our shores and for expediting vital funding to allow us to quickly make coastal repairs. Our coastlines are critical to our way of life and in this new and increasing reality of extreme weather, we must work together to bring solutions to this critical issue.”
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Daniel J. Panico said, “I thank our federal representatives and Governor Hochul for taking these actions that will hopefully result in sand renourishment for the communities of Fire Island. We need this time for the state and federal governments to develop more permanent solution because this constant scrambling after the fact is becoming unsustainable given the frequency and ferocity of these storms.”
East Hampton Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said, “The Downtown Montauk area has been battered and damaged by repeated storms over the last several months and is at risk of catastrophic failure if immediate action is not taken. We are grateful to Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and the Army Corp of Engineers for their commitments to our Town residents and we look forward to our continued collaboration on this critical coastal issue.”
Concerned Citizens of Montauk Chairman David Freudenthal said, “Coastal Resiliency is a top priority at Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM) and we are thrilled by this announcement. The commitment by Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reaffirms our collective efforts to protect our coastline and community from the impacts of climate-driven storms.”
On Tuesday, Governor Hochul announced additional state funding to support critical resiliency projects to stabilize communities and restore impacted beaches along Long Island’s South Shore, including Fire Island and Gilgo State Park. New York State is providing $2 million to the town of Babylon through the Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 to protect existing park infrastructure at Overlook Beach in Cedar Beach. New York State is also partnering with Suffolk County and providing $3 million to support local government efforts to undertake additional beach replenishment to further protect eastern Fire Island communities.
Earlier this month, Governor Hochul recently announced a comprehensive resiliency plan to protect New Yorkers from extreme weather as part of her 2024 State of the State Address and included $435 million in the Executive Budget proposal to help implement the initiatives. Highlights include:
- Creating the ‘Resilient & Ready’ Program to establish a flexible fund to support resiliency efforts for low- and moderate-income homeowners ahead of future storms. The program will enable State Homes and Community Renewal to assist households that experience flood damage to make necessary repairs in the aftermath of storms and will cover the cost of proactive flood mitigation improvements.
- Creating the Blue Buffers Voluntary Buyout Program, with $250 million included in the 2024-25 Executive Budget to encourage buyouts in communities most vulnerable to flooding. The program will prioritize outreach and education first and then begin identifying voluntary projects based on the level of flood risk, ensuring we protect our communities that are most vulnerable to high water and storm surges.
- Making major investments in statewide disaster response to put more boots on the ground, improve training and preparedness, and address evolving threats as they come.
- Update Coastal Erosion Hazard Area (CEHA) Maps, which are essential to the protection of beaches, dunes, and bluffs that maintain and enhance flood resilience, so that communities and permit applicants quick quickly determine if a property is within a CEHA.
The voter-approved $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022 is helping to support these and many other initiatives, including leveraging funding for water quality improvement and resilient infrastructure. The Bond Act is advancing historic levels of funding to update aging water infrastructure and protect water quality, strengthen communities' ability to withstand severe storms and flooding, reduce air pollution and lower climate-altering emissions, restore habitats, and preserve outdoor spaces and local farms. Disadvantaged Communities will receive at least 35 percent of the benefits of Bond Act funding, with a goal of 40 percent. For more information about the Bond Act, go to www.ny.gov/BondAct.
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