FEMA funnels $20M into Long Beach storm-prep efforts

The damage is done: And Long Beach is still feeling the effects of 2012's Hurricane Sandy -- but a new round of federal funding will help the barrier-island city fare better during the next superstorm.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

More than $20 million in federal funds will help protect the City of Long Beach against the next 100-year storm.

Long Beach is receiving roughly $20.06 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency – including $1.6 million previously awarded for engineering and design work and roughly $18.48 million now reserved for final engineering and construction – for a “critical infrastructure flood-protection system.”

The effort is designed to prevent flooding and otherwise protect the Nassau County city, located off Long Island’s South Shore on Long Beach Barrier Island, from the kind of destruction it suffered during 2012’s historic Superstorm Sandy.

Noting that “devastation from Hurricane Sandy is still felt today in Long Beach,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Phase II approval of the $20 million-plus package, a “100 percent federal share” that will cover the entire cost of the flood-mitigation project.

“This funding will not only help Long Beach continue its recovery, but also ensure its resiliency as we face extreme weather events that have become all too common,” the governor added.

Specifically, the project will construct new steel bulkheads to protect critical utility lines situated on the city’s northern shore, along Reynolds Channel, and construct an “armored slope” around the city’s existing natural gas pipeline.

Kathleen Rice: Taking on Mother Nature.

The effort will also include a new bulkhead adjacent to the Long Beach Boulevard bridge abutment and the construction of a new pump station, as well as “stormwater infrastructure upgrades,” capable of displacing 33 million gallons per day across Long Beach’s tidal wetlands, according to the governor’s office.

The project is slated to be completed by October 2021.

The funding comes from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which allows states to establish their own priorities for increasing resiliency, mitigating loss and damage associated with future disasters and reducing hardships. Following Superstorm Sandy, Albany accepted applications from government and nonprofit agencies across the state to help manage its HMGP priorities list.

Roger Parrino Sr., commissioner of the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said Long Beach – which suffered more than $150 million in damage, including critical damage to its water and sewage-treatment systems, in the 2012 storm – certainly qualified.

“This funding for the City of Long Beach will go a long way to harden this infrastructure and lessen the impacts of severe storms and flooding,” Parrino noted. “I want to thank FEMA and our state and local elected officials for their partnership in moving this vital project forward.”

United States Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY 4) applauded Cuomo for his role in securing FEMA’s support and noted the hazard-mitigation funding is extra important in light of the increase in the number of severe storms reaching U.S. shores in recent years.

“As we continue to see extreme weather events like never before, it is critical that we strengthen our infrastructure so that it can withstand whatever Mother Nature brings our way,” the congresswoman said in a statement.


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