New Breakwaters to Protect South Shore of Staten Island (USA)

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is pushing to secure $36 million in federal funding to construct a series of off-shore breakwaters and a living shoreline along the coast of Conference House Park that will reduce the risk of damage to homes and infrastructure along the South Shore of Staten Island during major coastal storms.

When Superstorm Sandy hit the South Shore of Staten Island in October 2012, lives were lost and thousands of homes were destroyed, which underscores the need for measures to prevent flooding and damage during future storms. The funding for this project would come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), a program funded by the Sandy bill that provides funds not just to rebuild infrastructure in the aftermath of a disaster, but to build back in a way that will prevent similar damage in the future.

“The South Shore suffered immeasurable damage during Hurricane Sandy – lives were lost, homes were destroyed, and livelihoods were torn apart by Sandy’s surging flood waters,” said Schumer. “When the next major storm hits, this federally-funded breakwater installation will help limit the scope of damage and prevent the type of tragedy many were forced to endure during Sandy. This breakwater will stop a tidal surge in its tracks and limit the amount of water that can rush into homes and nearby communities.”

The off-shore breakwaters that would be constructed as part of this hazard mitigation project would be situated off the coast of Conference House Park, and would primarily protect the surrounding neighborhood of Tottenville. The breakwaters would also increase the resiliency of the shoreline and various habitats along the coast that act as a natural barrier against wave damage and flooding. During Superstorm Sandy, 200 Tottenville homes surrounding Conference House Park were seriously damaged, and residential damages totaled $16,400,000.

Conference House Park itself also suffered an estimated $3 million worth of damage as a result of the storm.

A breakwater is essentially a long rock wall that aids to break and diminish a tidal surge as it moves inland so the shoreline absorbs less punishment. Once constructed, it would reduce the intensity of waves and slow down shoreline erosion. This breakwater installation would be located one-quarter mile offshore, have a length of 5,000 feet, and diminish wave height by 2-4 feet. In total, it would provide protection for 7,000 feet of shoreline that was badly damaged by the Superstorm Sandy.

Press Release, February 20, 2014

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