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Monday, September 15, 2014

Senators push to protect coastal communities
Plan to ‘jump-start’ L.B. Army Corps project
Anthony Rifilato/Herald
The city’s beachfront was decimated by Hurricane Sandy.

An effort to protect coastal communities like Long Beach from future natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy is under way, after U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called last week for a comprehensive, post-Hurricane Katrina-style protection plan for New York’s coastline.

At a Nov. 15 meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Schumer and Gillibrand called on the corps to “jumpstart” a series of projects that are aimed at protecting communities from the flooding that will inevitably accompany future storm surges.

The senators highlighted seven projects that they said have already been authorized by Congress — including a plan for the Long Beach barrier island — but were never begun or completed due to a lack of funding or local support. They include the construction of sea walls, jetties and dunes on the south shore of Staten Island, Coney Island, Rockaway Beach, Long Beach, Gilgo Beach, Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island, Montauk Point and, on Long Island’s North Shore, Asharoken.

Schumer and Gillibrand called on the Army Corps to begin construction of these long-stalled projects as soon as funding can be secured, and said that they should be modeled on a post-Hurricane Katrina Army Corps plan known as the Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction System.

According to Schumer’s office, because the plans are already authorized, the projects can be started up quickly, and wouldn’t require months or years of planning. “These seven projects have been approved by Congress, are ready to be started or rebuilt, and should be the first phase of a comprehensive, Katrina-style protection plan for New York’s coasts,” Schumer said in a statement. “They will offer significant protection while our longer-term infrastructure needs are evaluated. This is a ready roadmap for storm and flood protection for New York that we can implement in the very near future that is affordable and based on the Army Corps’ successful actions after Katrina.”

According to Schumer’s office, he hopes Congress will approve $500 to $1 billion in new financing for the projects sometime next month.

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