When Hurricane Sandy crashed into the Rockaways seven years ago Tuesday, it obliterated the famous boardwalk and burned down more than a hundred homes and businesses in Breezy Point.
Residents along the peninsula had their homes destroyed by flooding and an extended power loss went on for weeks at a time and the A train bridge was devastated, eliminating the only transit connection to the rest of the city.
Rockaway also lost many of its beaches during the superstorm and in the years since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has placed millions of cubic yards of sand to repair beaches, fortify dunes and increase resiliency. On the seventh anniversary, the de Blasio administration and USACE New York District announced that they are in the process of receiving final approval for the East Rockaway Inlet to Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay General Revaluation Report.
Pending final approval, construction of the first elements for the project, focusing on groins that will prevent future beach erosion, is expected to begin next year.
“We are moving rapidly to lock in the final approvals and get this vital resiliency project underway,” de Blasio said. “For years, residents of the Rockaways have called for these measures to protect against future storms. We are closing in on the final steps needed to make them a reality, and give these communities the safety and the peace of mind they deserve. The Army Corps has been a tremendous partner, and we are grateful to the Corps, our federal officials and everyone who has fought to bring the Rockaways back after Sandy.”
The beaches are vital to the economy of the entire peninsula. That came into focus when the city was forced to close an 11-block stretch of Rockaway Beach just days prior to the start of the 2017 summer swim season due to beach erosion that created unsafe conditions for beachgoers.
Local business owners were so livid they held a mock funeral on the beach and lawmakers voiced outrage over the decision, saying officials were warned about the constant erosion problem for years, because the beaches lacked the infrastructure to keep the sand in place.
The full $600 million project, with 100 percent federal funding, calls for a reinforced seawall/dune that will stretch from Beach Ninth Street to Beach 149th Street, an increased berm width with 1.6 million cubic yards of sand for initial replacement, the extension of five groins already in place as well as the construction of 13 new groins, all designed to help reduce the risk from future coastal storms and provide additional resiliency for Rockaway residents.
“Since Hurricane Sandy, we have worked diligently with the Army Corps of Engineers to fortify our shores and prevent damage from future storms,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “Now we are on the final steps of confirming that resilience project to build dunes and groins that can prevent erosion, flooding and the damage we’ve seen in the past. I thank the mayor and the Corps for their continued cooperation, and look forward to seeing the project fully underway so all the families and businesses along Rockaway can rest assured that our shore is protected.”