With Breezy Point Dune Application Formally Submitted to FEMA, Schumer Doubles Down On Call for Federal Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds

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Schumer: FEMA Should Quickly Approve Coastline Protection Project in Breezy Point Now That Application Has Been Formally Submitted.

Breezy Point, NY - March 20, 2014 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today reaffirmed his call for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds for a new dune flood-protection system in Breezy Point. Earlier today, the application for funding was formally submitted to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Program and Schumer is urging the agency to approve this application.
 
The proposed project would make residents safer and enable the Breezy Point community to be better prepared to withstand subsequent storms. Similar dune protection systems are already under way across the rest of the Rockaway Peninsula, but not yet at the far-western end, which leaves this community exposed to future storms. The proposed FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) project would cost approximately $58 million and consist of the evaluation and construction of a primary and secondary dune system and other protective measures in Breezy Point that would protect future storm surges. These storm-protection methods were not in place when Hurricane Sandy hit, which led to tremendous storm-surge damage throughout the community.
 
“With the application now in the hands of FEMA, we are one step closer to protecting the entire Rockaway Peninsula, including the thousands of at-risk homes in Breezy Point, so I am doubling down on my call for FEMA to promptly approve the double dune,” said Schumer. “The Breezy Point dune project must be a priority for FEMA because it is a smart and cost-effective solution to protecting our coastline. It makes no sense to protect just some of the Rockaway Peninsula; we need to protect all its communities.”
 
"Breezy Point was hit extremely hard during Superstorm Sandy, hundreds of homes were destroyed by either flood or fire and thousands of families still do not have adequate protection to rebuild their homes and their lives," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "Funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) will allow Breezy Point a secondary dune system and protect all our vulnerable neighborhoods on the Rockaway Peninsula. I urge FEMA to act immediately and finally allow our communities to build back stronger than before."
 
Breezy Point was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy. In total, approximately 215 homes were destroyed by storm surges, and 135 homes were destroyed by a fire that broke out in the community. Flooding damaged an additional 2,100 homes. As of today, about half of the approximately 3,000 families who live in Breezy Point still have not returned to their homes.
 
The Breezy Point Risk Mitigation Project is a critical part of barrier island protection for both the Breezy Point community and the Jamaica Bay watershed and floodplain. The proposed project has two principal components – a double dune system on the ocean side of the community and new protective measures on the bay side. The objective of the proposed double dune system is to provide sustainable, natural flood and erosion protection utilizing natural protective features such as beaches, dunes, beach vegetation and the barrier island. The dune will be designed to withstand the forces associated with a 100-year flood height, as indicated on FEMA’s latest maps, plus sea level rise (2.58feet) over the life of the project and provide long term, sustainable protection.
 
The principal need at Breezy Point along the ocean side is to provide a double dune system where the primary dune (most seaward dune) can survive the wave impact of a coastal storm and the secondary dune (the landward dune) can provide flood protection from storm surge.  On the bay side a series of flood and erosion protection devises, including baffle walls, T-groins, sheet pile and beach fill are needed.
 
The Breezy Point area was excluded from the US Army Corps of Engineers Rockaway Beach project, which ends at Beach 149th Street, approximately 2.6 miles east of Breezy Point. The Breezy Point community begins at approximately Beach 200th Street. There is currently no active federal, State or City flood or protection project in the Breezy Point community.
 
Schumer is today reissuing his call for federal funds to be used for a Breezy Point storm protection plan to ensure that the residents who have returned to Breezy Point – as well as those who will return in the weeks and months ahead – will have more protections in place to guard against damage during future storms. The plan supported by Breezy Point Cooperative includes dunes, seawalls, floodwalls and a storm water control and pump system.
 
Below is a copy of Schumer’s letter from December:
 
Dear Administrator Fugate,
 
As you know, Breezy Point, New York was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Sandy last year. In total, approximately 215 homes were destroyed by storm surges, and 135 homes were destroyed by a fire that broke out in the community. Flooding damaged an additional 2,100 homes. As of today, about half of the approximately 3,000 families who live in Breezy Point still have not returned to their homes.
 
I write to urge you to approve the City of New York’s (NYC) request for $50 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding for the evaluation and construction of a primary and secondary dune system to protect vulnerable neighborhoods on the Rockaway Peninsula, including Breezy Point. This flood protection project in Breezy Point would make its residents safer and enable the community to be better prepared to withstand subsequent storms. The Breezy Point community has lacked critical protection measures from storm surges and flooding for far too long, and during Sandy hundreds of homes were destroyed while thousands experienced severe flooding. HMGP funding for this project is essential to help a highly vulnerable community become stronger and more resilient against future extreme weather events and protect against loss of life and property.
 
The proposed Double Dune System project for the Rockaway Peninsula would evaluate and construct a primary and secondary dune system to protect vulnerable neighborhoods, particularly Breezy Point. The proposed project has two principal components – a double dune system on the ocean side of the community and new protective measures on the bay side. The objective of the proposed double dune system is to provide sustainable, natural flood and erosion protection utilizing natural protective features such as beaches, dunes, beach vegetation and the barrier island. The dune will be designed to withstand the forces associated with a 100-year flood height, as indicated on FEMA’s latest maps, plus sea level rise (2.58feet) over the life of the project and provide long term, sustainable protection. These storm-protection methods were not in place when Hurricane Sandy hit, which led to tremendous storm-surge damage throughout the community. Neighborhoods on the peninsula suffered devastating damage from Superstorm Sandy and remain highly vulnerable and susceptible to the effects of extreme weather, especially along the ocean coast. Redundancy of dunes would protect this community against storm surge waves and severe flooding that poses a tremendous threat to the peninsula.  
 
Thank you for your attention to this matter and all of the work you do in helping New York’s recovery from one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
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