By Vincent EliasOctober 29, 2013
It's been 12 months since Hurricane Sandy produced dire consequences for the region, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District is carrying out nearly $150 million worth of work to repair and restore coastal projects damaged by the infamous storm.
The catastrophic event that led to these efforts is far from forgotten.
During the end of October 2012, children were making Halloween plans and many of the faithful were preparing for the feast of All Hallows and All Saints Day when news came of the Atlantic's 18th hurricane of the 2012 season. Hurricane Sandy had just made landfall near Kingston, Jamaica. After causing severe damages in Jamaica, Hurricane Sandy continued along its projected path, churning its way through the Caribbean Sea and making landfall in Cuba on the October 26th with 115 mile per hour winds.
The energy of the system created over 30 foot seas and affected an area of ocean 1.4 million square miles -- nearly one-half the area of the United States. As forecasters from storm prediction centers watched the hurricane make its way toward the eastern United States, it became apparent that Hurricane Sandy would merge with weather fronts coming from the West and Canada and make landfall with astronomical surges fueling its impact.
Storm preparations and evacuation plans curtailed trick-or-treating, costume parades were cancelled and customary practices were abruptly altered. Early on October 29th, Hurricane Sandy curved northwest and made landfall in New Jersey near Atlantic City with wind gusts reaching 90 miles per hour. Coastal inundation, tidal river flooding and damaging winds brought on by the storm resulted in damages greater than imagined.
The impacts of Sandy in New Jersey alone were astonishing. Over 300,000 homes were destroyed, more than 7 million left without power, and nearly 200,000 businesses impacted. Tons of debris, fuel shortages, and millions of residents remained, and still remain affected by the storm.Recovery efforts began immediately. The US Army Corps of Engineers plays a major role in the disaster response with trained response teams providing a wide variety of public works and engineering related support. Missions carried out by the US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District included emergency power support, debris removal missions, assisting in the reopening of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and assessing damages to federally-authorized and constructed shoreline projects.
In addition to the significant damages to businesses and residences in the area, Hurricane Sandy was responsible for the loss of millions of cubic yards of sand along the areas shoreline and leaving the shore communities exposed and more vulnerable to potential future coastal storms.
AFTER THE STORM
While teams were deployed to support immediate recovery missions, there was also a focus on longer term repair, restoration, and coastal storm risk management projects and studies.The Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 provided the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies, with the funding and authority to restore coastal projects damaged by Sandy and to study and build new projects that will reduce risk of storm damages.
One of the largest projects undertaken by the Corps' New York District since Sandy was repairing and restoring a hurricane and storm damage reduction project in Keansburg and East Keansburg, and the Sea Bright to Manasquan Inlet Beach Erosion Control which were two projects already constructed along the New Jersey coast. Both projects are funded and authorized as part of two statutory authorities, Public Law 84-99, an authority that existed prior to Hurricane Sandy and applicable to all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects throughout the nation, and a new authority created by the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act passed in response to Hurricane Sandy damages, Public Law 113-2.
Through the Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Act, PL 84-99, the US Army Corps of Engineers is authorized to repair previously constructed projects after a large event like Hurricane Sandy returning the project area to its pre-storm conditions. Through this authority, the Corps is currently replacing approximately five and a half million cubic yards of sand lost in Keansburg and the entire reach from Sea Bright to Manasquan Inlet. Levees and a floodwall in Keansburg will also be repaired under this authority.
Through the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (PL 113-2), the Corps was further authorized to restore these previously constructed projects impacted by Hurricane Sandy to their original design profile which means an additional three million cubic yards will be placed on the beaches. In total, these two authorities allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair levees and wing walls damage in Keansburg and East Keansburg and placing nearly eight million cubic yards of sand on New Jersey beaches.
After Sandy, the New York District, in partnership with its sponsor, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, on these already constructed projects, moved quickly and prepared the necessary reports and gain the necessary approvals for the work to be accomplished. Six months after the storm, New York District personnel were able to design the necessary repairs, obtain required environmental permits, and carry out all of the accompanying work required to award construction contracts. Less than one year after Hurricane Sandy affected the area, the New York District awarded all six repair and restoration construction contracts.
Over the past months, stretches of beaches from Sea Bright to Manasquan are covered by crews laying pipe and pumping millions of cubic yards of sand. Bulldozers moved new sand to repair and restore the previously constructed beach berms, which in many places were destroyed by Sandy.
COASTAL RESTORATION FROM SEA BRIGHT TO MANASQUAN
The coastal restoration work in New Jersey from Sea Bright to Manasquan is part of a larger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers effort throughout the northeastern United States to place more than 26 million cubic yards of sand to restore beach erosion control and coastal storm risk reduction projects damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The Sea Bright to Manasquan Project was the world's largest sand placement project by volume when it was initially constructed from 1994 to 2001. It involved placing roughly 20 million cubic yards of sand along roughly 18 miles of New Jersey beaches, reducing risks for multiple communities.
Approximately 8 million cubic yards will be placed from Sea Bright to Manasquan New Jersey and approximately 875,000 cubic yards in Keansburg and East Keansburg, New Jersey. The repair and restoration to the Sea Bright to Manasquan Beach Erosion Control Project was broken into four contracts:
-- The $25.6 million contract Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach, which was completed in late September, involved placing 2.5 million cubic yards of sand along 4.8 miles of coastline.
-- In Long Branch, the US Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $40 million contract to place 3.3 million cubic yards of sand from Seven Presidents Park to just north of Lake Takanassee. Dredging is expected to begin in early November 2013.
-- The third contract, a $25.3 million contract will involve placing 1.5 million cubic yards of sand from Belmar to Manasquan and will begin at the end of October.
-- The fourth and final contract awarded in September 2013 was an $18.3 million to place 1.2 million cubic yards of sand on beaches from Asbury Park to Avon-by-the-Sea. Work is scheduled to being in December 2013.
"With this fourth contract awarded for emergency beach replenishment to restore the beaches from Asbury Park to Avon-by-the-Sea, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hopeful that in addition to providing beach erosion control, that this construction will also assist the region heal by restoring an important and central element to the coastal communities," said Col. Paul E. Owen, the Army Corps' New York District Commander.
Along the shore of the Raritan Bay, the Corps awarded two separate contracts to repair and restore the Keansburg, East Keansburg, and Laurence Harbor Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction project that were built by the Corps in the 1960s. The two contracts, totaling over $40 million, were awarded this past summer. Work is currently underway to repair the damaged levees and beach restoration work is scheduled to begin this winter.
For each project, the US Army Corps of Engineers, with its non-federal sponsor, the State of New Jersey, works closely with the local municipalities to explain the type of work, the potential impacts and ensure that projects are carried out in the safest way possible. All environmental coordination, permitting and monitoring has been and continues to be done in cooperation with State and federal partners including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
"Looking forward, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to aid the state of New Jersey in recovering from Hurricane Sandy as it completes repair and restoration contracts," said Jenifer Thalhauser, Regional Project Manager, Army Corps, New York District. "While these contracts are underway, the Corps continues to study and design new projects that will reduce the risk to these communities within the State from future coastal storm damages."