In a big step towards protecting Staten Island's east shore, badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy, the Army Corps of Engineers is asking for public comments on its plan to build a sea wall along a shoreline that's been historically vulnerable to storms. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed this report.
On a warm summer day, it's hard not to be attracted to the ocean.
That's why South Beach resident Mike Durakovic says he's never thought of leaving the area, despite his house being pummeled by Hurricane Sandy.
Still, when there's even the slightest chance of a storm, he says he's on high alert.
"Not a little, but too much nervous," he says.
Now, though, a $579 million plan to build a sea wall along Staten Island's east shore is meant to ease his fears.
The Army Corps of Engineers has proposed constructing a levee that starts at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge, and runs some four miles south to Oakwood Beach.
The wall will stand about 20 feet above sea level, an additional 10 to 12 feet above the ground on which it's built.
The FDR boardwalk will be extended from Midland Beach to Fort Wadsworth, and rebuilt on top of the wall.
That means views of the shoreline will be protected, and so will residents.
"I think if they did build the levees over here, I think it's gotta be a plus. I mean it can't be a minus. Because we do need something over here to stop the surge of the storm," says Charlie Clement, whose home was damaged during Sandy.
The Army Corps says the wall will be built to withstand a one-in-300-year storm over the next 50 years.
Areas south of Oakwood Beach, stretching to Tottenville, are part of phase two, though it's not certain whether a wall will be built there, as well.
With the threat of skyrocketing flood insurance rates looming, the levee aims to relieve thousands of residents living in these shore front communities from being required to purchase it.
"It's going to make the cost of living more affordable because it's going to lower the flood insurance rates which so many are so concerned about. So I think it's really an important measure that can't come fast enough for this community," says Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis.
There will be some waiting. The levee still faces an environmental review process and federal approvals before construction can begin sometime in 2018, with a hope that it will be finished by 2021.