Governor Cuomo Announces Agreement to Rebuild Coastline to Reduce Significant Coastal Erosion Threat on Fire Island

20,000 Cubic Yard of Sand Will be Used to Build Dune and Protect Communities of Fire Island

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Fire Island, NY - February 26th, 2016 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a joint state-federal effort to address coastal erosion and improve coastal resilience on Fire Island in the Town of Islip. Through a collaborative effort, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have secured 20,000 cubic yards of sand from a sand stockpile at Robert Moses State Park to build a temporary dune in the area of immediate concern.

“This project will strengthen Fire Island’s natural defense to protect its coastline and keep residents safer and better prepared for the next extreme weather event,” Governor Cuomo said. “I thank all levels of government for quickly responding to this problem and their help in building a stronger and more resilient community.”

“This federal funded emergency project is critical to protecting the communities on both Fire Island and the South Shore from storm-induced flooding. The rapid response and coordination between federal, state and county agencies was first-rate and got the job done in a timely and effective way,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

“This is an important step. Not only must we continue to restore the damage that Sandy inflicted on Long Island but allocate funds and resources toward proactive measures that protect and limit the impact of any future storms,” said Congressman Peter King.

Superstorm Sandy devastated our coastal communities and businesses on Fire Island and across Long Island. The ever looming threat of severe weather and coastal storms on Long Island is a constant reminder of how important it is to quickly move forward with resiliency projects to ensure that we as a community are best prepared for the future. I will continue to work on the federal level in a bipartisan effort to secure the resources necessary to protect Long Island,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin, member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“Protecting coastal communities from the risk of flooding and erosion is a responsibility the state takes seriously, and I am proud to work with the US Army Corp of Engineers, State Parks and our local partners to address these needed repairs at Robin’s Rest,” said Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner of the DEC. “While this interim step will help protect against a potential breach, I look forward to working with these partners as we advance long-term solutions to improve coastal resiliency through the Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point coastal restoration plan.”

“Governor Cuomo’s commitment and vision for building back a better, stronger and smarter New York in response to these fiercer storms is necessary in both the immediate and long-term protection of our coastal communities,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “This quick and collective coordination benefits and serves us all as we stand together to face the impact of climate change.”

Suffolk County and the National Parks Service reported significant beach erosion and storm wash-over in the area of the Robbins Rest Community. In response, state officials from the New York State Office of Emergency Management and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation quickly mobilized to assess the situation and determined the erosion threatens to cut off road transit to a number of Fire Island communities and exposes mainland Long Island communities to an increased risk of flooding if a modest Nor’easter or coastal storm were to hit.

The 20,000 cubic yards of sand secured by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will be used to build a temporary dune in the area of immediate concern. Under the US Army Corp of Engineers ongoing ‘Fire Island Inlet to Moriches Inlet’ project, the Corps will load and transport the sand to the breach area at full federal expense. Suffolk County will also provide a bulldozer if the USACE does not, to move sand as directed at the Robbins Rest location. Collectively, this action will significantly reduce the risk of a potential breach and protect the communities of Fires Island.

COL David Caldwell, commander, New York District said, "Working with the state and county, the Army Corps of Engineers is able to move forward with this emergency repair to address the significant erosion caused by recent storms at Robbins Rest. This also confirms the need for long-term solutions on Fire Island. This is another great example of how partnerships maintained at the federal, state and local levels help solve problems. We look forward to providing additional flood risk reduction measures for the community now and in the future as well."

Senator Phil Boyle said, “The Barrier Islands are our first line of defense in holding back the ocean and preventing the flooding and destruction of the mainland. It is critically important that all measures be taken to ensure that the ocean does not break through and I commend the Governor for his fast action in making this potentially dangerous issue a priority.”

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said, "Our beaches, Fire Island, and marine environment represent the hallmark of Long Island bounty. As an Assemblymember who has consistently advocated for the environment, beaches and outdoor recreation, I appreciate the Governor’s efforts and commend his commitment to the public. This is an important step toward the full recovery of Super Storm Sandy by providing the financial resources and engineering staff that supports these projects. We underscore the importance of caring for Long Island gems and resources. Once again the Governor has responded to our calls for protecting our residents from future storms and high tide events.”

County Executive Steve Bellone said, “We thank Governor Cuomo and the Army Corps of Engineers as well as our local partners for securing the required materials to address the recent breach at Robins Res t. This project highlights yet another example where collaborative efforts at the federal, state and local levels can expeditiously respond to an urgent need to protect our communities.”

Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said, “We are very grateful for the efforts of the Governor in addressing this severe erosion problem. This is a positive step forward in addressing the erosion caused by recent storms that have had a negative impact on Fire Island. This not only affects the residents of Fire Island, but also the people living on Long Island who are negatively impacted if there is a breach of our barrier beaches. I am pleased that state, federal and local officials have joined together to address the integrity of the dunes and the barrier which serves as the first line of defense for the mainland.”

Following Superstorm Sandy and additional coastal storms, coastal erosion along this stretch of Fire Island has increased, posing a significant threat to the communities along Fire Island and potential coastal flooding along mainland Long Island. The State along with the USACE are working quickly to advance the FIMI project, and planning for the Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point resiliency project to further bolster Long Island’s coastal defenses.