A new berm aimed at protecting Staten Island from future hurricanes is coming to Midland Beach on Staten Island, after $5 million was set aside for the project in the new city budget passed on Thursday. Borough reporter Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Sandwiched between South Beach and New Dorp Beach on Staten Island's East Shore is Midland Beach. The waterfront community suffered tremendously in Hurricane Sandy, when countless homes were destroyed and several residents died.
But because the neighborhood sits at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the coast, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers ruled it did not qualify for an emergency berm, or barrier made of sand or earth, to be paid for with federal dollars.
"I saw the devastation down here, that the homes and the streets were just like flooded and it was like a week after the storm. So I was shocked that this area was not included in the funding," said Joan Loschiado, a Midland Beach resident.
City Councilman James Oddo was shocked too, and that is why he and other elected officials pushed the city to fill what he calls "the Midland Beach void" created by FEMA and the Army Corps. Now the city's newly passed budget includes $5 million to build an emergency berm there.
"So that coastal flooding won't spill over from the bay, from the water, over the sand and into the residential community. And again, we don't oversell it. This is not the protection for the next Sandy," Oddo said.
That protection will come in phases over the next several years as government engineers execute the long-term plan to fully protect the island's coastline.
Oddo, a candidate for borough president, is also asking for the public's patience as it waits for the full South Beach boardwalk to reopen. He says what most Staten Islanders do not know is that the boardwalk was damaged before Hurricane Sandy, complicating the parks department's efforts to rebuild it.
"Damage that existed in the sub-structure of this boardwalk, damage that existed for a long time prior to Sandy that is not reimbursable. And you cannot get city funds to utilize, to rebuild a boardwalk that may not be there in its current form in five years," Oddo said.
Sections of the boardwalk will open throughout the summer and Oddo is hoping work on the emergency berm at Midland Beach will begin immediately.