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Spring 2013
tive, easy to construct, reasonable
way to provide storm protection?
The answer may be sand dunes.
Jamaica Bay lies on the Brooklyn/
Queens border. Over the last few
years, there were two pilot projects
to build up and re-vegetate some of
the marsh islands. No one was quite
sure how the project would fare over
the long run, but then along came
Sandy. Amazingly, the newly refur-
bished islands were unscathed!
The beaches of New Jersey’s Long
Beach Island showed how dunes
protect communities. In one small
community called Harvey Cedars,
there were newly constructed 22-foot
high dunes. The community did not
lose a single home. Six miles away
in the town of Brant Beach, the
dunes were older, lower and in poor
Flooding was cata-
strophic. Homes sustained severe
damage and several were knocked
off their foundations.
Atlantic City and Ventnor are located
on Absecon Island.
These two
towns had sizable dunes and had
little damage to homes on their
beach blocks. But two other towns
on the island, Margate and Longport,
did not have dunes and had major
The same pattern was repeated all
along the coast: Bigger beaches and
better dunes protected property.
Dunes can be constructed just by
piling up the sand or by starting with
a base of discarded Christmas trees
or by using specially designed forms.
The dunes also need plants, espe-
cially dune grass, to keep them in-
tact. In addition, the plants weaken
the force of storm surge waves.
So why don’t we have dunes all
along the shoreline? Some commu-
nities do not like them because they
can block shoreline views. Large
portions of our shoreline have public
beaches. There is certainly enough
space near boardwalks to create
dune systems, but this creates a
problem for debris removal. Open
sandy beaches can be “groomed”
using mechanical rakes, huge trucks
that drive down the beach, sifting the
sand to remove debris. But where
there are dunes, trash needs to be
raked by hand and this requires
manpower. Unfortunately, the budg-
ets of municipal parks departments
are the first to suffer when there are
budget cuts.
The bottom line is that well main-
tained beaches can provide the best
flood protection for our communities.
Our beaches are the first line of de-
fense against storm damage and are
an important part of our infrastruc-
ture, just like roads and power lines.
Our beaches need adequate funding
for the staff and equipment to keep
them in good shape. So let’s get
North Shore Happenings Spring
By Jim Scarcella
What's going on at the North Shore?
Arlington, Mariners Harbor, Elm
Park, Port Richmond, West Brighton,
New Brighton, St. George, Tomp-
kinsville, Stapleton)
Backers of the Wonder Wheel held
an EIS scoping meeting, three
weeks after Hurricane Sandy and its
flooding hit. The Developers have
promised to create jobs and are very