U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Long Beach City Council President Scott Mandel and Vice President Fran Adelson today unveiled a plan to fund a tougher, more resilient Long Beach boardwalk that can withstand serious future storms. Under the plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would provide funding to rebuild the destroyed boardwalk with improved materials, such as more resilient wood and special concrete, as opposed to simply rebuilding it exactly as it was before. Schumer said that such an arrangement is in the taxpayers best interest since the boardwalk will be much stronger, and able to withstand future storms. It would also allow the funding to come up front, as opposed to requiring Long Beach to borrow funds and then be repaid later. FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program allows for the agency to provide additional funding to rebuild structures in such a way that they will be more resilient to future storms.
"The boardwalk is the cultural, recreational and economic heart of this city, and we should be rebuilding it stronger than it was before so it is not the victim of the next great storm," said Schumer. "To simply rebuild it as it was, vulnerable to severe storms, would be penny wise but pound foolish. We must learn from Sandy, and apply those lessons to rebuilding so we do not face the same destruction next time."
FEMA's hazard mitigation program can provide additional funding under Section 406 of the Stafford Act, the federal disaster law that supplies aid to states and localities to implement long-term resiliency measures after a major disaster. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Normally, without these grants, FEMA will only provide enough funds for a locality to rebuild using the same specifications as the original structure.
After Superstorm Sandy destroyed Long Beach's 2.2 mile boardwalk, it was ripped out and completely demolished in January. Sustainable Long Island has teamed up with the city of Long Beach to create a number of forums and focus groups to help residents stay informed about recovery and revitalization efforts since Sandy. In a recent survey, involving 2350 people on Long Beach, 87% of those surveyed listed "durability and resistance to future storms," as the most important aspect in rebuilding the boardwalk.
Schumer and the City of Long Beach today unveiled a new plan to rebuild the boardwalk stronger than it was before. The new boardwalk is expected to be made of more durable materials, much like the boardwalk in Atlantic City which, although hit hard by Sandy, prevented the city from experiencing even more extensive damage.
Schumer today also launched his push to fight for accelerated federal funds that will ensure a stronger boardwalk be rebuilt. Schumer called on FEMA to immediately provide hazard mitigation grants to the city of Long Beach so that they have the necessary resources to rebuild a more resilient boardwalk that can withstand future storms. Schumer explained that the Long Beach community is a family and its residents view this boardwalk as a critical piece of their home. Schumer noted that local taxpayers should not have to bear the burden of rebuilding a new boardwalk and without hazard mitigation grants Long Beach will have to borrow money for its construction. Providing the city of Long Beach with hazard mitigation grants is a win-win because it will save local taxpayer money and provide the funding to build a much stronger boardwalk to prevent against future storm damage, Schumer said.