Brooklyn, N.Y. — Since Hurricane Sandy pounded the Northeast on Oct. 29, 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked diligently, together with its federal, state, local and industry partners, to complete construction on more than 106 authorized and funded coastal storm damage risk reduction projects.
Extending from Maine to Virginia, the efforts of the Army Corps’ North Atlantic Division (NAD) have been laser focused on reducing coastline community vulnerability through repairing, restoring and constructing regional storm risk management projects authorized and funded by Public Law 113-2, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.
In addition to repairing and restoring all 25 of the Corps’ previously constructed beach nourishment projects under the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies program, the Corps has finished repair work on 90 percent (77 of 86 projects) of navigation channels and structures impacted by Sandy under NAD’s Operations and Maintenance (O&M) program. Of the remaining nine projects, four are expected to be completed this year, with the last five wrapping up the O&M program by next summer.
“I am immensely proud of the outstanding effort of our entire team,” Brig. Gen. William Graham, NAD commander, said. “For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has been known as one of the largest and most respected engineering and construction organizations in the world. That reputation is based on the selfless dedication and professionalism of its workforce. Many years ago, the Corps had a motto, ‘The Corps Cares.’ Its efforts surrounding the recovery from Super Storm Sandy certainly prove that!”
To restore engineered dunes and berms to their authorized specifications, the Corps has placed more than 50.1 million cubic yards of sand — enough to fill MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, more than 25 times — on coastlines from New York to Virginia since federal funds were appropriated 45 months ago.
Feasibility cost-sharing agreements have been executed for all 17 federally-funded coastal storm risk management studies — one of which transitioned last year from a study to a construction project. Nine of 10 additional studies are projected to transition to construction projects by next summer. At the request of the non-Federal sponsor or, per Corps policy, the remaining six have transitioned — or will transition — out of the Sandy Recovery Program.
The Corps has completed four “authorized but unconstructed” (ABU) projects. ABU projects constitute the bulk of the recovery program and include beach nourishment projects which had been designed and congressionally authorized prior to Sandy but had not been built or were only partially built when the hurricane struck. Seven more ABU projects are now in construction, and the remaining eight will be ready to build pending coordination with state and local officials.
Since the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy (October 29, 2015), the Corps has completed 19 projects including 16 O&M and 3 ABU projects.
“The Corps will continue to ride the momentum we have achieved this past year as we move into 2017,” said Joseph Forcina, Chief of NAD’s Sandy Coastal Management Division. “To date, we have completed in excess of 106 construction projects out of a total 159, restoring previously constructed projects and navigation channels, as well as new projects that were approved but not built before Sandy struck. The substantive progress the Sandy Recovery Program will continue to see next year will again be realized through the resolve and the diligence of our team coupled with the collaborative commitment of several state, local and community partners to an unwavering joint effort to build resiliency and reduce future storm risk along our shores.”
Corps preparations involved considerable planning
Extensive pre-storm preparations ahead of Hurricane Sandy included establishing and deploying liaisons to state emergency operation centers, lowering pool elevations behind dams, securing Corps construction projects and facilities, moving Corps vessels to safe havens, issuing sandbags, and pre-positioning water and generators. After the storm surge, as part of the unified federal response, the Corps performed 512 critical facilities assessments and installed 210 generators at vital locations such as hospitals and police stations, generating 55mW of power – enough to power the equivalent of 50,000 family homes. They drained 475 million gallons of salt water from flooded critical infrastructure in the New York City metro area, cleared emergency routes in coordination with power companies, assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in returning affected ports to operation, removed 400 tons of trash and debris, refurbished 115 transitional housing units, and provided 9.2 million liters of bottled water.
Risk management study could benefit coastlines worldwide
Consistent with PL113-2, the Army Corps collaborated with over 90 federal, state, local government, and non-governmental agencies, tribal partners, and academic organizations on the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) to assess the flood risks of vulnerable coastal communities and ecosystems in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Submitted to Congress and released to the public on January 28, 2015, the unprecedented two-year undertaking applied a regional framework to reducing risk for vulnerable coastal populations. Study findings, outcomes and opportunities that can help guide efforts at all levels of government include wiser land use planning, combining nonstructural, structural, natural and nature-based and programmatic measures where possible, attaining greater institutional alignment and financing, implementing improved pre-storm planning and post-storm monitoring tools, and becoming better educated on flood risk and the availability of management solutions.
The NAD’s districts are working with local partners to initiate nine new study focus areas identified by the NACCS, analyzing the Northeast shoreline as a system to develop the most effective future solutions to manage increasing risks driven, in part, by more frequent and intense storm events, and changing sea levels. The NACCS framework can be used not only in planning the future protection of the 31,000-mile NAD coastline affected by super events like Sandy, but for customization by other local, national and international coastal communities managing similar risks.
To learn more about the North Atlantic Division’s Sandy recovery progress and future plan, visit www.nad.usace.army.mil/Sandy.