Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy battered the South Shore coastline, pushing ocean water across the barrier island at Cupsogue County Park and into the Moriches Bay forming a 1,500 foot wide breach, dredge equipment arrived to fill in the gap.
On Thursday, the Great Lakes Dredging Company, brought in the equipment that will dig 200,000 cubic yards of sand out of the inlet and use it to fill in the breach and build the dune back up about 8 feet.
- Related: Enlarging Cupsogue Beach Breach To Be Filled In
Work will start within the next 48 hours at a cost of $6 million, which will be paid for through a split between Army Corp of Engineers, the state and county.
New York State DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens along with Col. Paul Owen of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, and West Hampton Dunes Mayor Gary Vegliante toured the site, which sits a mile west of the beach pavilion, on Friday afternoon, each praising the 1992 federal breach contingency plan, which they said is making it possible to fill in the breach so quickly.
"The plan worked," said Martens, noting that a storm in 1992, which created a similar breach, turned a $350,000 breach remediation into a $7 million dollar job because there was no plan in place.
"This is a good news story," Martens said. "Because of the plan, we were able to bring multiple agencies in together to get this done quickly."
In addition to closing the Cupsogue breach, the plan is also being used to close a second 50-foot breach at Smith Point County Park. To remedy, a second dredge company is being brought in to dredge 50,000 cubic yards of sand from the LI Intercoastal Waterway and use it to fill in the gap.
The estimated cost of that project is $1.25 million.
There are no plans in place to close a third breach caused by Sandy near Fire Island. That breach, however, is being monitored.
Vegliante stressed the importance of closing the breaches, not only for environmental reasons, but to protect the mainland against future damage.
"The barrier island is our first defense," Vegliante said.
Throne-Holst concurred, saying that if the breach was left, more ocean water would be pushed into the bay, causing more flooding during storms in areas that surround it.
Throne-Holst also urged that all agencies and municipalities from Fire Island to Montauk need to take this as a learning experience work together to come up with a comprehensive plan to address the entire ocean shoreline.
"We need to use this as an opportunity, use it as a batter's plate," Throne-Holst said. "Not only is the barrier island our number once source of revenue, but it is our first protection against a storm."
Owen said the work to close the Cupsogue breach should take about two weeks, however, he stated, more will need to be done to shore up the area.
"This is only an emergency action," he said. "It will not hold up if there is another Sandy."
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