Work to fill in three barrier island breaches caused by Hurricane Sandy at Cupsogue, Smith Point and Fire Island is expected to start in the coming weeks, according to environmental consultant Aram Terchunian, of First Coastal Corporation.
The breaches, which widened after last Wednesday's nor'easter, will all be repaired under a Federal breach contingency plan, which was developed in the early 1990s after Hurricane Bob and several nor'easters ripped through the area, causing breaches at the Moriches Inlet and at Pikes Beach.
According to Terchunian, some ten government agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers, have been working the past two weeks to assess the damage and coordinate a plan to mend the breaches.
Right now, Terchunian said the Cupsogue breach, which is showing signs of enlargement, sits 1,000 feet wide just past the camping area and the Smith Point breach 50 feet wide between the pavilion and the inlet.
The Fire Island breach is still being assessed.
"The Moriches Inlet breach almost completely washed Cupsoque County Park into Moriches Bay," the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported at the beginning of the month.
Under the breach contingency plan, a dredging company with ocean dredging equipment will be brought in to fill the gaps. Expected to do that work is Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, which is just finishing up a dredge in the Rockaways.
The company, said Terchunian, will move west to east filling in the three breaches, ending at this month.
That bay project, according to Terchunian, is being reassessed and Oliver Longwell, spokesman for Congressman Tim Bishop, said the congressman is working to secure a permit and additional money to expand that dredge to help re-build the bluffs at Shinnecock, which were flattened after Hurricane Sandy.
"We think it is really important to get that area bolstered," said Longwell.
Costs, however, associated with the three breaches, have yet to be determined, but Terchunian says whatever the fees, they will be "a whole lot cheaper than having flooding in the mainland."
The barrier beaches, explained Terchunian, are the mainland's first defense against hurricanes and other large storms.
Under the cost-sharing arrangement in the Breach Contingency Plan, the DEC said the federal government under FEMA would pay for 65 percent of the costs to fix the breaches. The state and local portions of the cost is 35 percent.
"The state is prepared to allocate funds as quickly as possible through the New York Works program to protect the bay communities, infrastructure and habitat, said DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, adding, "The DEC has solid partnerships with the Army Corps, other federal agencies and Suffolk County that will expedite the implementation of the plan and the start of the recovery process for Long Island's beaches."
It is estimated that it will take 10 days to seal the Cupsogue Beach breach, according to Ken Wells, chief, Public Affairs U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
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