2009-02-27 / School News

Local Students Blown Away By Army Corp Project

The powerful 60 mph winds, on February 12, didn't stop a dozen Rockaway Beach middle school students from going to the beach after school to meet with personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

According to JoAnne Castagna, Ed. D., Technical Writer-Editor for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Kappa VI students participated in the meeting as part of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance's "Environmentor" After School program. They were anxious to learn about the fresh sand placement the Army Corps is performing on the beach that sits close to their school.

"We have a strong relationship with the Army Corps' New York District and collaborated with them to organize this event," said Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance.

"This is one of several events we organized with the Army Corps that helps educate and mentor Rockaway youth about how the Army Corps is improving their environment and community on Rockaway Beach."

Army Corps personnel spoke with the students on the boardwalk at Beach 38 Street, in front of the Army Corps' sand pumping operations that were halted at the time due to the strong winds.

The wind didn't seem to bother the curious students as they anxiously asked the Army Corps questions while holding down their hats.

"Where does the sand come from?" asked one student.

"The sand comes from the ocean. Sand is removed from the East Rockaway Inlet to clear the channel for ships to move safely through the water. This collected sand is then placed on areas of Rockaway Beach that have eroded [become smaller] due to severe storms and it's used to provide the community some protection from future hurricanes and flooding," answered William Vanterpool, Project Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

Another student asked, "Why do you have to make the beach bigger?"

Vanterpool answered, "We only place sand where the beach has eroded due to severe storms."

"Will the bumps in the sand stay after the work is done?" asked a student as they all watched vehicles moving sand around on the beach.

Vanterpool explained that the sand will be evened out on the beach before the project is completed.

It was mentioned to the students that all of the Army Corps' sand dredging and pumping work is performed during specific times of the year so as not to harm threatened and endangered animals that live on and off the shore.

Vanterpool and Gerlyn Perlas, Chief of the Technical Support Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District agreed that this opportunity to interact with the students was very rewarding because they appeared to be very interested in the dredging and beach nourishment.

Dupont said, "The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance is thankful for the Army Corps' visit. Now these students will be aware of how much the agency is doing to protect the Rockaway peninsula." She continued, "This visit also gave the students an opportunity to see what types of careers they can strive for that help to improve their community and environment.

The students had a great time and were very excited to meet and talk with the Army Corps engineers and see them in action."

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