For thirty years Suffolk County has debated federal plans to buttress Fire Island’s dunes against ocean storms.
The dune building is a key part of what’s known as FIMP, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to protect low-lying South Shore communities vulnerable to ocean storms.
This week, Suffolk legislators should vote on a crucial aspect to the plan to acquire 41 Fire Island homes to make way for these high dunes. Legislators will also vote to join in the overall plan.
Thank Congress for finally approving funding for this massive project to restore communities devastated by super storm Sandy and to strengthen defenses against future ocean storms.
More than $207 million in federal funds will construct 15-foot high dunes and restore beaches on Fire Island largely to protect vulnerable bayside communities. Work could start in October.
Suffolk legislators need to approve capital funding to acquire the Fire Island properties, mostly in Davis Park and Ocean Bay Park. The county will be reimbursed by the feds and the state.
This is an historic moment, says Joe Vietri, a key architect the Army Corps coastal protection policy.
Given predictions of rising sea levels, Vietri warns, the number of South Shore homes deemed vulnerable to storm flooding could quadruple, up to 100,000 homes. Many will have to be elevated.
And given these forecasts, strategies to continually fortify dunes may not prove to be viable.
But for now, it’s crucial that Suffolk legislators do their part in shoring up Fire Island as Long Island’s first line of defense against devastating ocean storms.