Long Island officials call for federal help to fight severe beach erosion

Chanteé Lans Image
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Concern grows over beach erosion on Long Island
Raegen Medgie is in Long Beach, Nassau County with the story.

BABYLON, Long Island (WABC) -- Although the brunt of the storm may be gone, the aftermath has left a mark along beaches on Long Island.

The recent round of storms battered many beaches along the South Shore, causing coastal flooding and severe erosion.

On Friday, Suffolk County officials held a press conference to call on the federal government to help curb erosion at Overlook Beach in Babylon.

Officials say the last time the sand at Overlook Beach was replaced was a decade ago. Chantee Lans reports.

County and town officials said beach erosion has been an ongoing problem, causing the town to lose hundreds of feet of beachfront over the past 10 years.

Given the increase of coastal flooding and storms, they are concerned it will only get worse.

The town beach is now closed due to erosion. Officials are worried the town could soon lose its beach playground and other structures if the erosion continues.

Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine and Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer are looking to the federal government - specifically the Army Corps. of Engineers - to help save Overlook Beach, seeking both temporary emergency solutions and a long-term solution.

"I can't say it any better than were at DEFCON 5, red alert," Schaffer said on Friday. "We need all the help that we can get from our state and federal partners, and we are all joined together in order to do that."

Schaffer said he spoke with Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday night.

Hochul said she sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking them to "take a greater role in the recovery process" to help the South Shore of Suffolk County after Tuesday's storm.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said "since then, there has been robust discussion between state officials and Army Corps officials on their steps forward."

Over on Fire Island, homeowners are dealing with a similar issue.

"We lost another 20 feet with live trees and it's just getting closer by the minute," said Fire Island Fire Chief Walter Boss.

The Army Corps of Engineers said it is aware of the situation and will continue to seek ways to help residents of the communities impacted, but they do not have authority or funding to do emergency repairs.

"Public Law 84-99, governing emergency responses to disasters, has very strict guidelines: there must be substantial damage to structures and roads and prolonged disruption to utilities from a Category III Hurricane (winds of 110-129 MPH) or higher to be considered," officials said in a statement. "The New York District completed an analysis of the coastal storm events in September, determining they were not eligible for PL 84-99 assistance. This determination is currently being validated by other Army Corps Districts. Their determination should be completed later this month."

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