Patching up a breach in the dike

Isle of Wight residents continue to battle flooding after Sandy


It began as a 19th century summer community in what is known as Back Lawrence. However, the Isle of Wight section of homes in the village has 21st century problems.

Hurricane Sandy ripped an estimated 30-foot breach through the approximately 1,000-foot long dike that serves as a barrier of protection for the cluster of roughly 50 homes; 40 of which were damaged by flooding by the superstorm, according to homeowner Tom Keating, president of the community’s homeowner’s association. The wave surges were between 10 to 12 feet, he said.

“The damage wasn’t there before the storm, but it was complete after the storm,” said Keating, referring to the breach in the dike.

Many of those 40 homes remain without electricity as the power lines that serve the houses need to be checked by an electrical engineer, village officials said. Lawrence brought floodlights to the triangular-shaped community and placed in the roadways for the residents to have streetlights.

After clearing the debris left by Sandy on the top part of the dike, the village moved large concrete boulders against the ocean side of the dike to shore it up.

In the short-term, Lawrence has ordered three, 20-feet long, 24-inch diameter pipes. Installed underneath the dike, the pipes will pump water from the wetlands back out to the ocean to help reduce the threat of flooding.

With the breach still open, flooding is occurring during high tide. After the pipe installation, Lawrence will fill in the breach with stone and concrete.

“We are acting as proactively as we can,” said Village Mayor Martin Oliner, adding that “the dike has been rebuilt considerably.”

A team of four members from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took a preliminary look at the dike, but no formal long-term assessment of what needs to be done or what materials to use has been made.

“Ultimately it depends on what kind of damage occurred and the level of protection being sought in the long run,” said Corps spokesman Chris Gardner, adding that Sandy damage exceeded many previous storms in this region.