As we kick off preparedness month for the fifth time since Superstorm Sandy, it truly is remarkable how far we have come as a city and as a community. Together, we have grown stronger, built back smarter, and, as a result, we have made ourselves safer. Five years after the storm, our City Council’s goal of Long Beach serving as a model of sustainability is becoming a reality.
In March 12, we engaged the Army Corps of Engineers and revived a long overdue beach protection project that is currently underway.
Since then, the council has fiercely advocated for essential storm reduction projects to move forward as fast as possible. It is wonderful to see so many people marveling at the magnitude of the work being done on our jetties — it brings back memories of how we all watched the rebuilding of our stronger, smarter, safer boardwalk.
Just as with the boardwalk, we are thrilled that the Army Corps project is moving ahead of schedule, and we welcome the resiliency it will provide us when it’s completed.
On our bayside, we have secured more than $32 million for bulkhead improvements to protect our critical infrastructure and our residents. We have also secured $8 million for storm-water improvements to help us combat heavy rainfall that seems to have become the norm.
For far too many decades, our city was simply unprotected and even routine rainstorms resulted in streets being closed by flooding. Fortunately, this council gave us clear direction — we can no longer tolerate leaving our barrier island and our homes unprotected.
In the near future, the city will also be constructing an Office of Emergency Management here in Long Beach to allow for coordination on the barrier island before, during and after an emergency, while also providing seamless communication with the Nassau County OEM as a satellite office.
As we are in the midst of a hurricane season that forecasters have predicted to be potentially more active than normal, we all must do everything we can to be prepared. During preparedness month, we will be posting helpful tips on the city's social media — with the hashtag #LBReady — hosting a preparedness workshop with the Red Cross, and talking about all of the measures undertaken since Sandy to better prepare Long Beach residents for whatever may come our way. It is also critical that we continue the conversation U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice and I started last year, where we urged FEMA to focus more on resiliency as opposed to rebuilding “as was.”
On Monday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m., the city will be co-hosting a meeting with the Army Corps at City Hall to discuss a back-bays study the agency has been working on. The Army Corps will provide us with information and guidance on potential resiliency measures that could protect us from flooding along Reynolds Channel.
Finally, the city has set in place various ways to get information prior to, during, and after an extreme weather event. We encourage all Long Beach residents to sign up for emergency notifications (email, text, phone alerts) on longbeachny.gov, download the Long Beach Response Mobile App, and visit prepare.ny.gov for information on preparedness.
Five years after the storm, we are absolutely stronger as a community, more united than ever in fighting for what we need and deserve.
We're smarter, having turned our harsh lessons learned into practical, forward-looking plans and resiliency strategies. And we're safer because we have made tremendous progress.
With all of that said, we full recognize that we still have much more to do, and together, we will continue fighting to ensure that we all have the necessary resources to rebuild the right way.
Jack Schnirman is the Long Beach city manager.