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Dec 14, 2009 5:01 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Governor seeks disaster declaration for South Shore at Bishop's request

Dec 14, 2009 5:01 PM

New York Governor David Paterson has filed a request for the South Shore of Long Island to be designated a federal a disaster area in the wake of Tropical Storm Ida, according to a press release issued by U.S. Representative Tim Bishop of Southampton.

In a letter sent to the governor on Friday, December 4, Mr. Bishop urged Mr. Paterson to seek the disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency so that Suffolk County communities whose beaches were affected by the storm would become eligible for federal disaster aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.

Estimates of damages in Suffolk County from Tropical Storm Ida exceed $26 million, according to a press release from Mr. Bishop’s office.

“I applaud the governor for responding to the urgent needs of the south shore of Long Island. His actions will help to ensure our communities have adequate protection against future storms and that our maritime industries do not face further economic burden,” Mr. Bishop was quoted as saying in a press release issued by his office on Friday, December 11. “In the coming weeks, I will be coordinating a meeting between federal, state and local agencies to determine the most effective steps forward toward protecting the resources and assets of south shore communities.”

In mid-November, a nor’easter with waves that reached 14 feet high and winds between 30- and 60-miles per hour battered local beaches. In parts of East Hampton, Bridgehampton and Quogue, the storm washed away as much as 50 feet of dunes. The damage has left beach fronts with little protection against further damage going into the winter storm season

The storm also swept away more than 175,000 cubic yards of sand in front of the pavilion at Smith Point County Park, according to Suffolk County Parks Commissioner John W. Pavacic.

The beach may be replenished through either borrowing sand from offshore or an underwater borrow site, Mr. Pavacic said. Another more expensive alternative would be trucking in sands from an upland sand mine. An $11 million dredging project to make the Moriches Inlet more navigable was successful last year. Its spoils were used to replenish Smith Point County Park and Cupsogue beaches.

“For the amount of sand that was lost in front of the pavilion ... we’re estimating that for dredging the material from an offshore area, that would be roughly $4.4 million dollars,” Mr. Pavacic said. “And then the cost for trucking it in could range from $13 million to $17.5 million dollars.”

In his letter to Mr. Paterson, Mr. Bishop wrote that Suffolk communities have spent millions of dollars to protect homes and assets from shore erosion and to maintain navigable channels for commercial and recreational boating and fishing.

“Unfortunately, many of these longstanding efforts have now been undone,” the letter states. “In my district, for example, homeowners in the Village of Sagaponack risk losing their homes should another significant storm hit the south shore. The Village of Quogue and the Town of Southampton are on the verge of losing significant investments in infrastructure due to beach erosion.”

In East Hampton, the biggest problem reported was not the loss of sand but that multiple navigable channels, including the east channel of Napeague Harbor, are partially or completely closed off, making it difficult for baymen to get through them.

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Thank You, Congressman Bishop.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Dec 12, 09 7:53 PM
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 13, 09 11:47 AM
Could someone explain what exactly "adequate protection" is?
Maybe a detailed example how the beaches will be saved?
Opening the channels is long over do. All the money our fearful leader can print will do nothing against mother nature at any ocean.Why should millions have to pay for the poor builing decisions made by few. Did they have to build there? If not we should not have to pay for it.
By double-D (96), southampton on Dec 13, 09 10:08 AM
To anyone interested in letting me know that it's about the beaches not the people who built there. Please fill me in on the answer to my second question. Or the first one for that matter. We all know what opinions are like . How about some known facts instead of known opinions.
By double-D (96), southampton on Dec 13, 09 10:12 AM
One fact that all parties of interest in barrier beach arguments is that the barrier beaches are a dynamic geographical feature. They move seaward or landward according to atmospheric and oceanic forces. Inlets are formed and closed at the whim of the weather.

The homeowners and contractors advocate stabilization to protect their investments in beach construction. The natural preservationists argue that barrier beach stabilization is akin to King Canute trying to hold back the sea.

Further, ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 14, 09 1:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
Right on, HighHatSize! We taxpayers were total dummies to allow Westhampton Dunes to take 54 million from the governmenmt coffers and commit to many years of dune restoration! Instead, FEMA should have paid each of those greedy homeowners the value of their policy and tell them to go build somewhere else - out of harms way. The vacated land would belong to the public and we would not have to hear all that whining from the "arrivista noveau riche".
By mariner (8), Southampton on Dec 20, 09 9:06 AM
Double D of Southampton is selfishly oblivious of the recreational joy afforded by the beaches to millions over the years - and not just locals but people from all over Long Island, (I might as well as ask why I should pay for his roads and schools)Good thing we have a more far sighted Congressman in Mr. Bishop.
By cavalier (2), Quogue on Jan 3, 10 9:27 PM