Morris Kramer, a local environmentalist who supported the Army Corps project, said that the barrier island’s low elevation and narrow beachfront make it susceptible to severe storm damage. He said that Hurricane Sandy should serve as a wakeup call to officials and residents.
“This water crossed over Long Beach,” Kramer said. “The storm water moved from the ocean into the bay, and that helped flood many of these homes in low-lying parts of those communities.”
The federal government would have picked up 60 percent of the project’s cost, he said, while the state and city would have kicked in 30 and 10 percent, respectively.
“If they had adopted this plan back in 2006, it would have been completed in two or three years, [and] the dunes would have compacted and hardened,” Kramer said. “With tropical Storm Irene last year, there would have been minimal damage. With Hurricane Sandy, there still would have been minimal damage. There is no sense in rebuilding Long Beach if you don’t put long-term protection in front of it.”
Kramer said that dunes in the city’s east and west ends were simply not strong enough to withstand Sandy’s force. “The dunes at Lido held — those had grown for 30 years,” he said. “Long Beach had no dunes, except for some areas in the east and west ends. But the [city] did not rebuild them, and that’s no good. Also, [the West End dunes] had walkways through them to the streets, and the walkways were not raised as the dunes grew, so that basically became a wall with a hole in it.”
Schumer did not say how long it would take for the renewed plan to get off the ground if funding were approved; whether it would have to go before the City Council or incorporate recommendations made by Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc.. According to Schumer, under the U.S. Flood Control and Coastal Emergency Act, the Army Corps has emergency authority to fight floods and repair damaged flood-control projects. After Katrina, the corps used that authority, and additional federal funding, to initiate projects quickly to protect Louisiana and the surrounding states.