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After Irene: For Local Beaches, Hurricane Just Another in Series of Storms

Hurricane Irene is just the latest in a series of storms that have ravaged Port Jefferson’s beaches.

While property owners boarded up windows and stocked up on food as Hurricane Irene was bearing down on Long Island, there was a portion of Port Jefferson left exposed to the ravages of Mother Nature, as it has been for many months now: and .

“At this point, it looks like there is a high probability that our beaches will sustain extensive damage this weekend,” said village trustee Lee Rosner before the storm. “All we can do is secure lifeguards stands, tables, etc. that we use in the daily operation of our beaches and hope for the best.”

What he pointed out was the irony of the timing in Irene hitting Long Island for Port Jefferson's beaches.

“The engineering work by First Coastal Corp. for the beach restoration resulting from the March 2010 nor'easter is finally getting underway,” he said in a pre-hurricane interview. “Unfortunately, there may be adjustments to these projects after this weekend.”

After the waters receded, the beach had probably been damaged but not as much as Rosner first feared, though it was cold comfort for an area of Port Jefferson that has been hard hit in recent years.

“I have not gotten down there yet, but I hear that there was additional damage to the west side of East Beach and the large dune which protects the bluff on the eastern end of East Beach also eroded further,” he said immediately after the storm passed. “I heard West Beach looks OK. Crystal Brook Road Beach appeared to be OK as well.”

East and West Beaches have had their share of environmental woes. The Mt. Sinai jetties, which according to Rosner were built a hundred years ago, have been eroding for decades and sand from the beaches wash away from the beaches into Port Jefferson’s neighboring harbor in Mt. Sinai.

“In 2006, there was a dredging done of Mt Sinai harbor inlet and Cedar Beach and sand was moved to re-nourish the Port Jefferson beach,” said Rosner in an to the beaches in Port Jefferson. “The tempestuous northeast and northwest storms of the intervening years–especially this winter–have shifted the sand back onto Cedar Beach and into Mt. Sinai harbor.” 

According to a statement by Mayor Margot Garant last year on the damage from the winter 2010 storm, no work was even able to start until Fall, 2011. This recent storm may cause even more complications.

After Irene, Rosner said that the village will probably “engage a coastal environmental/engineering firm in the near future to resurvey the beaches post Irene to determine the full extent of additional damage since the last major storm” in December 2010.

The Army Corps of Engineers did a comprehensive study last year and their proposals could costs between $6 and $9 million, according to the earlier interview with Rosner about the winter storm damage.

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