U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin working with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on short-term protective measures along the the East and South Shores of Staten Island. In February, Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to formally assign the Army Corps to prioritize storm protection beaches along Staten Island's shoreline after they were devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Schumer today announced that the Army Corps has been mission-assigned by FEMA and will begin providing technical assistance to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation at these beaches. The City of New York will then let the contracts for the work and will be reimbursed by FEMA through Public Assistance so that work can begin immediately.
Schumer stood alongside NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica White; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander COL Paul Owen, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, City Council Minority Leader James Oddo and City Councilmember Vincent Ignizio.
"Since Superstorm Sandy hammered Staten Island's beaches, coastal communities from South Beach to Tottenville have been left vulnerable in the event of a future storm," said Schumer. "It is great news that the Army Corps will begin working with NYC Parks on beach protection projects throughout Staten Island so that residents do not have to worry about coastal flooding if another severe storm comes our way. I applaud FEMA, the Army Corps and NYC Parks for working together and making sure important environmental projects like this one move forward at full speed."
"Within hours of Hurricane Sandy's ravaging of our Staten Island beaches, NYC Parks was on site to assess damage and begin the essential work of rebuilding for a safer future," said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White, "The dunes will help protect some of the most vulnerable communities, and we thank Senator Schumer, the Army Corps of Engineers, and FEMA for joining us in launching these measures."
The shoreline communities on Staten Island, including South Beach, Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach, Wolfe's Pond Park Beach, Crescent Beach, Tottenville Beach and Oakwood Beach, were devastated after Superstorm Sandy. The beaches along the coast have been destroyed, and some lost between ten to twenty feet of sand in length and four to six feet of sand in height.
The Army Corps is authorized and responsible for protective measures at locations with authorized construction projects, which exist at Coney Island and Rockaway. Since Staten Island does not, no federal aid was immediately available. However, the Stafford Act provides FEMA the authority to take short-term action in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers to provide protection to vulnerable communities. Building dunes and berms would defend Staten Island's beaches with additional sand and protect communities and structures along the beach in the event of a future storm.
Schumer today announced that the Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to provide technical assistance under their existing mission assignment to support New York City recover from Hurricane Sandy. Technical assistance includes surveying, scoping, project plan specification and contract administration. NYC Parks will prioritize locations, let the contract for the construction and then be reimbursed under FEMA's Public Assistance program.
Schumer noted that the Army Corps' beach protection projects for Staten Island will help protect coastline communities from future storms. Schumer made the case that without beach protection these communities are left vulnerable to future storms because beaches provide a natural storm barrier. Schumer is hopeful that beach berms and dunes will provide much needed protection for Staten Islanders.
A copy of Schumer's original letter can be found below:
Mr. W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick
Chief of Engineers
Army Corps of Engineers
Dear Administrator Fugate and Lt. General Bostick,
I understand that FEMA has asked the Corps of Engineers to analyze emergency protective measures that could be taken to fortify the coastline before the next hurricane season, which could involve temporary sea walls and beach nourishment in Staten Island. As you know, the Stafford Act provides FEMA the authority to take short-term action in conjunction with the Corps to provide protection to vulnerable communities. I am pleased that FEMA is thinking outside-the-box to protect life and property in Staten Island in the interim period before we can build out the federally authorized South Shore protection project recently funded by the supplemental relief legislation.
I would respectfully request that you consider a beach nourishment protection project along the south shore communities of South Beach, Midland Beach, New Dorp Beach and Oakwood Beach as a high priority during your review. The beaches, which provide natural storm protection for these communities, suffered severe sand displacement. The beaches lost between ten to twenty feet of sand in length and four to six feet of sand in height leaving many neighborhoods vulnerable to another storm surge.
I look forward to hearing from you. Please contact my Washington, D.C. if you have any questions.
Charles E. Schumer