NEW YEAR, NEW SAND: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Beach Restoration Underway


%22Ellis Island%22 hopper dredge.jpg

Dredge Pipe.jpg

USACE Staging facing east 2.jpg

beach renourish bird's eye view Summer Club with Gifford house.jpg

teams at work.jpg

As New Years Eve celebrations were underway, excitement on Fire Island was also focused on the beach as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contracted teams began to mobilize over the weekend.

The hopper dredge known as “Ellis Island,” could be seen along the horizon and the Coastal Research Amphibious Buggy (known as the CRAB) could be seen making its rounds between Atlantique and Seaview.

Still, barely two weeks after a nor’easter socked Fire Island, the question persists, what about our sister communities out east? While the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) was formerly adopted in December of 2021, the activity we are seeing now is actually one of the remaining Fire Island to Moriches Inlet (FIMI) interim projects, utilized for emergency repair after Superstorm Sandy.

Once the FIMI work is completed on Fire Island’s west end, the team will head over head over to sand placement at Montauk, which is a FIMP contract, according to USACE Public Affairs Specialist James D’Ambrosio.

“The New York District continues working with our partners at the state and federal levels regarding Fire Island. Currently we have no authority or funding to do emergency repairs. Public Law 84-99, governing emergency responses to disasters, are very strict: there must be substantial damage to structures and roads, as well as prolonged disruption to utilities from a Category III Hurricane (winds of 110-129 MPH) or higher for consideration,” wrote D’Ambrosio in an emailed statement last month.

In early December, weeks prior to the nor’easter, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Director of Bureau of Flood Protection and Dam Safety sent a letter to the USACE voicing concern of catastrophic outcome for the eastern end of Fire Island if action was not taken soon. The Fire Island Fire Chief’s Council wrote a letter of similar urgency in November, stating that beach erosion conditions is hindering community access conditions for first responders. And PSEG Long Island announced measures to fortify an electric substation east of Fire Island Pines in October, as beach conditions in that vicinity were showing signs of deterioration in mid-summer, weeks before September’s tropical storms made landfall.

All that said, D’Ambrosio added that the USACE does plan to perform an analysis of the December 2023 storm event to reassess beach conditions at Fire Island Pines and other eastern points on Fire Island. Release of the updated evaluations are expected later this month.