Albany also kicks in on Island storm-resiliency projects

Next time, we'll be ready: Lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy and other recent superstorms are better preparing Long Island for the next big blow.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The City of Long Beach isn’t the only Long Island location gearing up for the next big blow – or battening its hatches with non-local government assistance.

Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that more than $20 million was being funneled into storm-preparedness projects in Long Beach, including $18 million-plus earmarked for final engineering and construction of a “critical infrastructure flood-protection system.”

While New York State’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services prioritized Long Beach’s needs in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, applied for those FEMA dollars and ultimately secured them, those were federal funds.

Not to be outdone, Albany got into the act on Thursday, announcing more than $20.4 million in funding for projects across Nassau and Suffolk counties similarly designed to prepare for the next 100-year storm. This time, the money comes from state coffers – specifically, the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program, part of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

The projects, selected by local community-reconstruction committees, range from the establishment of a new emergency-management office to the enhancement of existing drainage systems and other infrastructure improvements. A total of eight regional projects – five in Nassau, three in Suffolk – are on tap, part of $41.1 million in statewide NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program projects slated to kick off this fall.

Noting the eight Long Island projects were “selected by our local partners,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday the $20.4 million-plus would be well-spent fortifying vulnerable Island locales against future superstorms threatening the New York coast.

Gov. Cuomo: New York’s best vs. Mother Nature’s worst.

“In the face of increasingly destructive weather, it’s critical that we continue to protect New Yorkers by rebuilding and hardening our communities and infrastructure,” the governor added. “These investments will help vulnerable Long Island communities upgrade their infrastructure to withstand whatever Mother Nature throws our way.”

The Nassau County stipends announced Thursday include $7 million for the Freeport Channel Crossing Electrical Improvements Project, which will replace a cable beneath the Freeport Channel that carries power serving one-quarter of the Village of Freeport’s residents, and $2.1 million for the East Baldwin Road Raising Project, which will raise residential streets and install drainage improvements in the Town of Hempstead-located village.

Also on tap in Nassau are the installation of permanent generators for “critical community facilities” in the Town of Oyster Bay, which snagged $2.1 million in funding, and the establishment of a Long Beach-based Office of Emergency Management, which will leverage $1.79 million to carve out space in Long Beach City Hall for emergency-preparedness and disaster response.

South Valley Stream, meanwhile, will use $3.8 million in NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program funds to restore and improve the shoreline along The Path, a pedestrian greenway adjacent to Brook Road Park.

In Suffolk County, $2.66 million has been earmarked for the Greater Bay Shore Generators Resiliency Project, benefitting Bay Shore and Brightwaters residents; and a total of about $1.04 million – $522,500 for each project – will fund permanent generators for the Village of Amityville’s main firehouse and the Village of Lindenhurst’s Rainbow Senior Center.

With the additional $20.4 million announced Thursday, the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program has now designated more than $100 million to support the implementation of locally directed Long Island initiatives, according to Cuomo’s office.

“This collection of projects reflects the local needs and assets of communities across Long Island,” Jeanmarie Buffet, director of NY Rising’s Long Island programs, said in a statement. “It also embodies their overwhelming desire to apply lessons learned from recent storms and, in the process, to cultivate more sustainable communities that will benefit generations of New Yorkers to come.”