Storm washes away Fire Island dunes

Brookhaven Town concerned about PSEG substation

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Earlier today, Brookhaven Town officials presented the storm sustained at Fire Island between Davis Park and Seaview after the coastal storm that hit on Sunday, Dec. 17 and Monday, Dec. 18.

According to the deputy commissioner of planning, environmental protection, and land management, Michelle DeBrita, every community on both the bay and ocean sides of Fire Island was majorly impacted by the storm eroding “most” of the dunes and protective barrier.  Many areas, she said, also saw washovers where the ocean spilled over to the bay.

“The protective barrier no longer exists,” she said. “Some of these houses are less than 5 feet from the water.”

Another concern, according to Supervisor Ed Romaine, is the possibility of the PSEG substation, located at the Pines, falling into the ocean. As of now, he said, they are bolstering the area with sandbags again—however, most of the prior work was destroyed by the storm. If lost, he explained, power will be lost from the Pines to Davis.

The town has since called on the Army Corp. of Engineers to place sand on the beaches for further protection. According to Romaine, they already have dredging equipment in the area.

“The next storm, and there will be a next storm, could be far more disastrous,” he said.

“It’s not a question of if it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen,” councilman Neil Foley added concerned at the potential loss of homes during the next major storm.

He has since also called on NYS Senator Chuck Schumer to urge the Army Corp. of Engineers to aid the area.

“The communities over there are counting on their help, and hopefully common sense does prevail,” he said adding that since COVID there are several full-time residents living on the island.

His biggest fear, he said, is the possibility of a fire with limited ability to fight it. Many of the areas share fire services, he explained, and with the status of the beach, they can no longer drive down the beach for access. Additionally, with the conditions of the beach and with a cold winter and a frozen bay, there is a danger of limited fire response.

“There is no more time to fool around,” he said.