2010-09-03 / Top Stories

Weiner Calls On Army Corps To Be On Alert

With tropical storm season in full swing and Hurricane Earl approaching, Rep. Anthony Weiner called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be on alert and prepared for the possibility that the Belt Parkway and homes along the Brooklyn and Queens coast could be endangered.

Even if New York isn’t directly hit by Hurricane Earl, which has winds of up to 135 miles per hour, the storm could cause devastating flooding and erosion to low-lying areas along the Queens and Brooklyn coasts.

Parts of Rockaway lost up to 6 feet of sand in a Nor’easter last winter, while Plumb Beach, which once provided a 40-foot buffer between the Belt Parkway and the water, has been reduced to just a few yards of sand.

Damage to the Belt Parkway could be disastrous for commuters, as it carries 140,0000 vehicles per day. Under normal circumstances, any hurricane would pose a serious threat to this major thoroughfare, but with unaddressed damage to Plumb Beach, the risk to the Belt Parkway is multiplied.

Every summer, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers flock to the City’s beaches. But what they may not know is that for years the coast has been literally washing away, with some of the most pronounced erosion occurring during the harsh winter months. In addition to serving as recreation spots, area beaches act as vital barriers to protect homes on one of the most populated barrier islands in the United States.

In a letter to Lieutenant General Van Antwerp of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Weiner called on the agency to thoroughly prepare for the storm in the event swift action is needed.

“The Army Corps needs to be prepared for the possibility that coastal areas of Queens and Brooklyn, including the Belt Parkway and residential homes, are literally one storm away from catastrophe,” Weiner said in the letter.

Last year, Weiner was integral in securing $2.8 million to help dredge Rockaway Inlet and supply Rockaway Beach with a fresh infusion of sand. More than 130,000 cubic yards were distributed to help restore the beach to pre-storm levels. Weiner also led federal and city officials on a tour of Plumb Beach last year to explore solutions for protecting the at-risk waterfront.

Weiner has been a leader in helping to develop a long-term solution to the ongoing erosion problems that face New York City’s coastal areas. Since 2000, he has supported nearly $10 million in appropriations funding to explore options for retaining sand on Rockaway beaches, such as installing jetties to act as breakwaters. This is the third time Weiner visited Plumb Beach to highlight erosion damage and future risks caused by Nor’easters.

In December of 2009 and December of 2008 Weiner brought the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to Plumb Beach to show them the damages caused by erosion.

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