Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dune System protected Fire Island


Initial reports of the storm’s impact on Fire Island were dire. And while it did breach the 32-mile island in two places, flood many of the 17 communities — during the storm, the bay and the ocean met, subsuming much of the island under feet of water — and ruin dozens of oceanfront houses, the verdict now is that it could have been far worse.
Unlike many of the hardest-hit areas, Fire Island had a robust system of dunes, ranging from 10 to 20 feet in height, that largely absorbed the ocean’s wrath, saving the bulk of the island’s 4,500 homes. The dunes were replenished only a few years ago, after many residents agreed to accept a new tax to help finance the work. Now the dunes are gone.
“The dunes served their purpose,” said Steven Jaffe, president of the Ocean Bay Park Association, one of the homeowner groups on the island. “But they were decimated, and now we have a winter coming and we don’t know what will happen.”
         --NYT  11-19-12



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" We have suffered grievous damage, but we have fared better than most. Some of this is, no doubt, attributable to good fortune.

We were lucky. But we cannot discount role of our preparedness as well. For years we have invested heavily in the management and nurturing of our beachfronts. The fact that none of our ocean front homes were lost in the face of a storm surge that exceeded predictions of a “hundred year storm” is in large measure attributable to the condition of our managed beach and dune system."
                   --Saltaire Mayor Cox, letter to constituents


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OCEAN BEACH, N.Y. -- New Yorkers who cherish Fire Island as an idyllic summertime getaway feared the worst when the 32-mile-long barrier island took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy's powerful surge. The wall of water swamped nearly the entire island, destroyed or washed away about 200 homes and scraped sand dunes down to nothing.
Still, residents are counting their blessings.
That's because more than 4,000 structures survived, at least enough to be repaired. And some are crediting the carefully maintained wall of dunes, ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall, with taking the brunt of the storm's fury.
"The dunes were demolished, but without their protection it would have been much worse," said Malcolm Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University.


 

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