Howard Beach to receive $50M from feds for storm protection

Howard Beach to receive $50M from feds for storm protection
Map courtesy Andrew Cuomo
By Philip Newman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that the federal government will provide nearly $50 million to fund storm protection for Howard Beach, which suffered heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy.

“Like several other communities located near the water, Howard Beach suffered incredible damage from storm surges during Sandy,” Cuomo said. “To strengthen Howard Beach against future flooding and storms, we are moving forward on a major project that improves the natural infrastructure along Spring Creek and the Jamaica Bay coast in Queens, with the approval of federal funding.

The project involves excavation, re-contouring and restoring vegetation to establish a self-sustaining system of wave dampening barriers to reduce storm damage along 150 acres of waterfront.

“As the state continues to work with local communities to identify and implement state strategies to make at-risk areas more resilient to extreme weather, this project is another example of how we’re building back better to better protect New Yorkers’ homes and businesses,” the governor said.

The Spring Creek project site is bound by the Belt Parkway to the north and a series of roadways — 78th Street, 161st Avenue, 83rd Street, 165th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard — to the southeast. The site comprises the western and southern perimeters of the community of Howard Beach, which has a population of 7,400 and contains nearly 3,000 homes, two schools and dozens of small businesses.

The site is managed by the National Park Service as part of the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

During Hurricane Sandy, a tidal surge reached as high as 6 feet above ground level and 1,958 homes and 38 businesses were damaged as were both schools.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 700 of the affected homes received disaster relief loans totaling $43 million.

The area is also vulnerable to wave assault from the southwest as it is exposed to a coastline area of nearly 3 miles.

The community was also damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.