More Flooding Hits Long Island Amid Ongoing Beach Repairs

Ocean waves come right up to the dune in Kismet on Fire Island on Saturday, January 13, 2024. (Beth Batkiewicz/Fire Island News)

More Flooding Hits Long Island Amid Ongoing Beach Repairs

Widespread flooding again inundated coastal communities across Long Island following the third storm in a week to hit the region, prompting officials to explore additional beach replenishment efforts to mitigate water damage. 

Reports of flooding in the latest storm included cars underwater in southern Freeport, nearly a foot of water in coastal Amityville, and streets flooded in downtown Montauk and on Fire Island — both of which are in various stages of pumping more sand on the beach when the storms caused more oceanfront erosion. 

“We’re in the process of examining all of the data from these storms in accordance with federal guidelines,” said Col. Alex Young, commander of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ (ACE) New York District, which is conducting an expedited review of requests for emergency beach repairs. “We’re committed to working with our partners at the federal, state, and local levels to determine the best path forward for helping to mitigate coastal storm damage for the residents of these communities and throughout the tristate area.”

ACE is currently working on the long-awaited $1.7 billion Fire Island to Montauk Point project that is dredging sand from the bottom of the Atlantic and pumping it onto South Shore beaches to rebuild berms and dunes to counter storm surge. But despite the work, a string of strong storms this winter has washed away the sand and once again put some oceanfront homes at risk of falling into the sea. The projects ACE is reviewing for repairs are downtown Montauk, west of Shinnecock Inlet, and on Fire Island — where work is underway in western communities but eastern communities have called for aid.

Besides erosion and flooding, the recent storms had also caused thousands of power outages on LI, some school delays, and resulted in hundreds of flights to be canceled nationwide. The previous storm spurned both Nassau and Suffolk to declare states of emergency, as did several towns.

Flooding in the Village of Ocean Beach — the unofficial capital of Fire Island — was so bad Fire Island Ferries temporarily canceled service, officials urged residents to wear waders to walk around, and police suggested homeowners not bring children or pets. The flooding came while the village is in the middle of a $14 million infrastructure project designed to more quickly drain floodwaters. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, there were no breaches on the island, but there were over washes — a momentary rush of ocean water over the barrier island, but not one that forms a consistent tidal flow, like New Inlet did after Superstorm Sandy.

While cleanup and assessments continue in the wake of these storms, the forecast calls for the possibility of the first storm to bring enough snow to accumulate this week.

“We still have some uncertainty about how they’re going to play out but there is a chance that we could see some snow into Tuesday night,” the NWS said.