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City to Fast-Track Flood Protection Construction on Staten Island Beaches

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 4, 2013 4:04pm

SOUTH BEACH — The city will fast-track a project to add short-term flood water protection at  Staten Island that were wiped out by Hurricane Sandy, Sen. Charles Schumer announced today.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will design the protective measures, including berms and dunes, and the city's Department of Parks and Recreation will fund the project and put out the contracts, which will be reimbursed by FEMA.

“Today’s announcement should give homeowners a lot of solace that they will have protection,” Schumer said.

The protective measures will be taken while more permanent measures, such as sea walls, are explored.

The Army Corps has authorized construction projects ranging from sand dunes to berms in Coney Island and the Rockaways, but Staten Island was not included.

But since the city will fund the project, the nearly 18-month construction and planning time should be slashed, Schumer said. He said that construction is expected to start in April.

“Had we not done this, Staten Island would have been left out in the cold,” Schumer said. “Staten Island will get protection and they will get it soon."

After the storm, some Staten Island beaches lost 10-20 feet of sand, a natural storm barrier, that was 4-6 feet deep in some places, Schumer said.

City Councilman Vincent Ignizio said the protection will help alleviate some Tottenville residents' concerns about rebuilding, since the storm completely washed away the previous flood barriers.

“There's fear that exists,” he said. “This will go a long way in protecting my constituents and it will go a long way in bringing the communities back.”

Since the storm, near-by communities have been ever more susceptible to flooding during any rainfall because of the loss of beach protections, Ignizio said, and the berms and dunes should help.

Schumer said that the construction of the berms and dunes will just be a first step, and they are still working looking at more permanent measures to prevent flood-waters, like seawalls, something New Dorp Beach residents petitioned the city to build in 2010.

“We’re studying seawalls, we're studying more permanent protections,” he said. “These are the sand protections which can be done quickly and immediately and are our first, but certainly won't be our only, line of defense.”

While construction time can not be finalized because the project hasn’t went out to bid yet, but Army Corps of Engineers Commander Paul Owen said residents can expect the protections to be up around two to three months after construction starts.