Long Island county pleads for federal help to deal with beach erosion

SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined Suffolk County officials Tuesday to make an urgent plea for help to deal with significant erosion at area beaches.

Two recent nor'easters have already washed away a lot of coastline, and residents are worried any new storms could be devastating.

Tom Regnier has been coming to the shores off Shinnecock Inlet for decades, but he says he never seen beach erosion this troubling.

"It's all gone," he said. "I think this could even be worse than what we saw in Sandy. Sandy, the whole area was under, but the sand didn't move as much as it did with this storm."

Suffolk County is stepping in to dredge and shore up what it can, but its resources are strapped for what lies ahead.

"It is certainly not something that we can continue to handle on a local level," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. "And that's why the partnership is so important with our federal government."

Schumer said he's cautiously optimistic that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use powers outlined in federal law to dredge and pump all along the barrier islands between Fire Island inlet and Shinnecock, where two ongoing projects desperately need the emergency boost.

"If we don't make it as strong as possible, the next time there's a major storm, all this can be undone," he said.

Supervisors from several towns joined them, explaining it's more than just an environmental concern -- it's an economic one.

The Army Corps of Engineers says they're working on the best approach given the law, but with each storm, the clock is ticking.

"This is our livelihood," said Tara Makis, who owns a fishing company. "So we need to be able to check our vessels."

Suffolk County is currently dredging about 90,000 cubic yards of sand to get through this week, but officials say about 800,000 cubic yards is needed.

----------
* More Long Island news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.