2003-09-19 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

From The Rockaway MuseumDedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Shades Of 1973
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Historical Views of the Rockaways From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke Shades Of 1973

Historical Views
of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
Shades Of 1973

Some of us still remember and curse the Nor’easter of December 11, 1992. This was the last big storm to devastate the Rockaways. Never to be forgotten is the inundation of many areas of the Rockaways, which some denied? How about that!

Today’s Historical View goes back to 1973, the year of storms that dealt our beachfront – from Far Rockaway to Rockaway Point – a very erosive blow! (no pun intended).

This picture was taken in the month of November in 1973 (by yours truly) looking west from a hanging boardwalk stair at Beach 98 Street and the boards. The wet marks at the bottom of the boardwalk supports show how high the tide came up.

Our beaches have been nourished a few times since 1973, but it does not take long before most of the fill is washed away. In some storms, all is gone in a couple of hours!

The Rockaways have been lucky (in the literal sense) over the last decade, because that big one, a hurricane of category 3 or 4 or 5, has not come our way – yet!

The only break we will get is the fact that contemporary hurricanes, that is huge hurricanes; travel up at much greater speeds – instead of lingering awhile. Even though this is so, our beachfront couldn’t stand a quick hit from a direct hit from a super storm! And with all the home construction about, has anyone given a thought to this monumental threat?

Imagine a high category hurricane on a course to directly hit New York City (which has happened several times in the past). The winds are about 150 mph (+ or -), high tides have already been backed up in the New York Bight by storm winds, Jamaica Bay is flooding areas of the Rockaways bayfront because it cannot drain out, and an 18-foot surge is expected atop this high water. Got that? Good!

Now let us compute! Picture this 18-foot plus wall of water coming at us at 150 mph (+ or -). Each cubic yard of salt water weighs about three quarters of a ton (1500 pounds). Now each 1500 pounds of saltwater has multiplied its weight (or destructive force) by traveling at us at 150 mph….This is the "X" factor.

Now, how many cubic yards of saltwater are contained in the surge coming at us. Another "X" factor!

Now that we have figured this out, what is the total destructive force coming at us? Another "X" factor.

The answer is simple, "three strikes and you’re out!" Hey! Wait!

I do not know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be around to find out! Yours truly will be gone while the first high hurricane tide is coming in!

Has anybody given thought to the "Big One" striking in the near future? Send your opinion to letters to the editor or Historical Views. Let’s get our heads out of what little sand that is left, and remember – if you skim off the top of the Rockaway peninsula, all that is left is beach sand!

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