Army Engineers Complete, Continue Sandy-related Projects
By Justin Ward
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2013 In the 12 months since Hurricane Sandy struck the northeastern United States, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed repairs on 30 Sandy-damaged navigation channels and structures, completed restoration of the six most urgent and compelling engineered beach projects along the coast, and is actively working nearly 200 other projects to reduce the risk of future coastal storm damage.
In the Corps' North Atlantic Division's footprint, which spans from Virginia to Maine, 14 beach restoration projects and 20 projects to repair navigation channels and structures are underway. Work also continues to expedite and complete 17 flood and storm damage reduction studies, all of which are 100 percent federally funded and could lead to construction of new coastal storm damage risk reduction projects, officials said.
Additional work includes 18 "authorized but not yet constructed" projects slated to start in early 2014 that will reduce risk to areas that were vulnerable when Sandy hit, officials added. These projects, which would complement the previously constructed beach restoration projects, were previously designed and congressionally authorized, but they never moved forward due to lack of funding, real estate easements or other factors.
Of the 18 projects in the North Atlantic Division, 11 are scheduled for New Jersey, five for New York, and one each in Delaware and Virginia. Within South Atlantic Division, one each is planned in North Carolina and Florida. Within the Ohio River and Great Lakes Division boundaries, one is planned at the Chautauqua Creek Dam in upstate New York.
"The Corps leaned forward in its response to Hurricane Sandy to ensure the families in our region could return to their lives as quickly as possible," said Army Brig. Gen. Kent Savre, commanding general of the Army Corps' North Atlantic Division. "Likewise, we are leaning forward now with our partners to restore our coastlines so that we can mitigate risk from future storms."
Using lessons learned during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, the Corps' Hurricane Sandy response role started with extensive pre-storm preparations, including standing up emergency operation centers, lowering pool elevations behind dams, issuing sandbags, and pre-positioning water and generators.
After the storm, as part of the unified federal response, the Corps was called upon to remove 475 million gallons of salt water from flooded critical infrastructure in the New York City metro area, install more than 200 generators to critical facilities such as hospitals and police stations, remove hurricane debris, refurbish 115 transitional housing units, provide more than 9 million liters of bottled water, and assist the Coast Guard in returning affected ports to operation.
Since the passage of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 in January, the Army Corps' focus has been on reducing the risk of future coastal storm damage to Atlantic Coast communities, Corps officials said.
In the eight months since federal funds were appropriated, the Corps has placed more than 40 percent of a total 26 million cubic yards of sand -- enough to fill 19 Empire State buildings -- on identified beaches in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia to restore dunes and berms to their pre-storm conditions. The beach restoration in all states is expected to be completed by fall 2014. The repair of navigation channels and structures, which began in February 2013, is scheduled for completion by spring 2015.
"For many of us, this is not just a job," said Joseph Forcina, chief of the North Atlantic Division's Sandy Coastal Management Division. "We have been impacted; our families have been impacted. … And we want to institute proper measures as quickly as possible to bring down the risk that some of these communities are currently working under."
Consistent with the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, the Army Corps is collaborating with federal, state, local and tribal partners on a North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study to assess the flood risks of vulnerable coastal populations in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. The study will apply a regional framework to reducing risk for vulnerable coastal populations, and is scheduled for submission to Congress in January 2015.