Where six Long Island communities stand now, five years after Sandy

The Long Beach boardwalk. Bellport’s municipal dock. Freeport’s Nautical Mile. Montauk’s dunes. Homes, roads and beaches.

All were destroyed or severely damaged by superstorm Sandy in 2012 and required millions of dollars in local, state and federal funds to repair or rebuild.

Five years later, there’s still much to do in the South Shore communities that suffered the worst of the storm, officials say.

Here’s a look at how six communities have fared in the storm’s wake.

Long Beach'All of it was a struggle'

Damage sustained:

Sandy caused more than $150 million in damage to the Long Beach infrastructure and flooded the entire city under several feet of water from both the ocean on the south and bay channel to the north. As much as a foot of sand covered the barrier island. The iconic beachfront boardwalk was destroyed as were the city’s water and sewer treatment plants and several roads. Lower levels of condo and apartment high-rises, and hundreds of low-lying homes, were inundated.

“It was pure devastation. It looked like a blizzard of sand hit the city,” Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said. “I think it was a level of damage few had contemplated or expected. We had no choice but to instantly get to work on cleaning up.”

What changed:

Long Beach has received more than $100 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to rebuild infrastructure, including the $42 million 2.2-mile boardwalk. The city also spent $4 million to rebuild the city’s water system, $5.5 million to repair and upgrade the sewer system and $1.4 million to improve the drainage infrastructure. City officials installed 33 valves on the north shore to reverse street flooding into the bay.

What remains to be done:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues working on its $230 million oceanfront dune and jetty project to protect the city from an ocean storm surge. About half of the jetties have been completed and the project is expected to be completed next spring.

The city is starting a $12.5 million bulkheading project on the north bay-facing shore. Residents are responsible for adding their own bulkheads, using a city financing program.

The City Council is still reviewing a comprehensive plan that could relocate critical infrastructure away from the bay waterfront, and is using $18 million in state and Nassau County grants to convert the city’s sewer plant into a pump station, rather than spend $128 million to repair the aging and damaged plant.

“None of it came easy. All of it was a struggle,” Schnirman said. “I think we’re much better prepared than we were five years ago, but until these projects are completed, we won’t be as protected as we’d like to be.”

— John Asbury

Freeport'Six to seven feet of saltwater'

Damage sustained:

Freeport suffered about $100 million in damage to residential, commercial and municipal infrastructure, according to Mayor Robert Kennedy. Nearly 3,500 homes had saltwater flooding and 15,000 tons of garbage and oil washed away in the storm. Electrical substations flooded, as did the village’s Department of Public Works garage on Albany Avenue, which housed equipment for the Office of Emergency Management.

The Nautical Mile strip of restaurants and bars along the Woodcleft Canal was “destroyed” by electrical fires and flooding, Kennedy said.

“Everything south of Atlantic Avenue was flooded,” Kennedy said. “The entire Nautical Mile was under six to seven feet of saltwater.”

What’s changed:

Officials have spent more than $8 million to repair bulkheads along Freeport’s south shore and built a $1 million OEM facility to house equipment such as food, vehicles, generators and lighting on Long Beach Avenue, outside the 100-year flood zone, Kennedy said.

Freeport Electric disconnected its substations and has run higher voltage on overhead lines, the mayor said.

Low-lying flood-prone streets were elevated. The village has also installed “check valves” that work with the drainage system to prevent “nuisance flooding.”

What remains to be done:

Kennedy has been vocal in calling for tidal gates to be constructed on the west end at the entrance to East Rockaway Inlet at Atlantic Beach and 9 miles east of that, at Jones Inlet at Point Lookout. The mayor said he believes the gates would prevent Reynolds Channel from flooding and keep South Shore communities safe from storms like Sandy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is studying the project and Kennedy is trying to get local, state and federal officials to support it.

“Anything we do is not going to prevent the flooding other than the storm surge barrier gates,” he said.

— Stefanie Dazio

LindenhurstSeeking more flood protection

Damage sustained:

Lindenhurst sustained millions of dollars in damage from Sandy and applied for $5.2 million in assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New York State and insurance. The village has so far received $4.4 million.

Costs for the storm response and cleanup in the weeks after totaled more than $2 million, including more than $1.5 million for debris removal and nearly $464,000 for overtime, according to Village Administrator Doug Madlon.

Among the hardest hit village assets were its bulkheading, which Madlon said cost almost $917,000 to repair. Its two other badly damaged properties were Shore Road Park and the Charles J. Cowan Marina.

What’s changed:

At the marina, the village captured and reset 48 mooring poles that were lifted or pulled out of the water by Sandy floodwaters.

The electrical system in the marina building has been repaired and elevated in a small electrical room that was created. The electrical system at the park was restored and panels placed two feet above the base flood elevation.

The baseball and soccer fields at the park also were restored.

What remains to be done:

The village has applied for $6.4 million in federal Community Development Block Grant money for a variety of flood protection projects including: $522,500 for a generator for the Rainbow Senior Center; natural resiliency improvements at Shore Road Park for $2.3 million; drainage improvements including $1.2 million for road raising; $801,197 for bulkhead repair and the installation of check valves; and $1.6 million for culvert and outfall reconstruction and leaching structures.

The village also is negotiating with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery on a promise the village made to take title to 43 empty lots as part of NY Rising’s Enhanced Buyout program, which was designed to return flood-prone properties to a natural state for parks, buffer zones or other uses, with no development allowed.

— Denise M. Bonilla

BellportWaiting for FEMA

Damage sustained:

Bellport officials said the village had more than $4.3 million in damages from Sandy.

The docking area at Ho-Hum Beach was damaged and the beach pavilion destroyed. The boardwalk leading to the pavilion also was damaged. The docking area at Osborn Park was damaged along with all the electrical wiring at the park.

A shed at the village golf course needed to be repaired and the shoreline reconstructed, officials said.

What’s changed:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has reimbursed Bellport for more than $970,000 in repairs, including projects for electrical work, replacing a shed, and making shoreline and road repairs, village officials said.

Bellport Village Mayor Ray Fell said the storm caused a lot of damage but with the rebuilding effort, life in the village is returning to normal.

What remains to be done:

The village has asked FEMA for $2.5 million for bulkheading work at the main pier, which would include new asphalt and storm water drainage.

“We have to prove to FEMA that the damage came from superstorm Sandy and that’s the process we’re going through now,” Fell said, adding the project wouldn’t be done without the agency’s help.

The village is also awaiting FEMA reimbursement for $605,000 of repairs at Ho-Hum Beach and $206,811 for the new gazebo. Repairing damage to the underwater parts of the main pier remains to be undertaken, officials said.

— Deon J. Hampton

Fire Island'Things are so much better'

Damage sustained:

Sandy left Fire Island with extensive destruction of its dunes, flooding throughout communities, a new breach to the ocean and damage to Fire Island National Seashore facilities.

The storm also damaged private homes, and boardwalks and other facilities belonging to Brookhaven and Islip towns and villages on the island. Efforts to repair the damage have been undertaken by the towns and villages, local community and homeowners associations, Suffolk County, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

What’s changed:

Fire Island National Seashore officials have said a $207 million dune-replenishment project has been largely completed from Democrat Point, west of the Robert Moses Causeway bridge, to Seaview, near Ocean Beach.

The National Park Service also has spent nearly $1 million to remove debris and repair boardwalks, buildings, maintenance facilities, fuel tanks and signs damaged by Sandy.

The Federal Highway Administration provided $16.4 million for repairs and improvements, including: dock, boardwalk and road repairs at Fire Island Lighthouse; dredging to restore navigational channels, and marina repairs at Sailors Haven and Watch Hill.

Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, said the summer community’s residents rebuilt dunes as well as their own homes, and the boardwalk was repaired by Brookhaven Town.

“A lot of great work has been done in Cherry Grove itself by the people who live there, and the Town of Brookhaven on the walks,” Romano said. “Things are so much better. … Our residents really did a great job repairing homes that needed to be repaired.”

What remains to be done:

An oft-delayed plan to replenish dunes on the eastern part of Fire Island is scheduled to begin next year.

To make room for additional dunes, wrecking crews in January 2018 are expected to begin tearing down about three dozen homes, including about two dozen dwellings in Ocean Bay Park and about 13 in Davis Park. About a dozen pools and decks in Fire Island Pines will be relocated. Dune reconstruction is to take place in those communities next year, and in Point O’ Woods, Cherry Grove and Water Island.

— Carl MacGowan

Montauk'There was no beach at all'

Damage sustained:

The storm cost East Hampton Town $633,478 in damages overall, budget officer Len Bernard said.

Montauk’s downtown was hit the hardest, leaving beachfront motels and businesses with exposed foundations, officials said.

Montauk resident Edith Wright, 52, was killed while walking her dog in the storm.

Dunes and bluffs near Culloden Point, Ditch Plains Beach and Montauk Point eroded. Streets and buildings flooded. Sand was wiped away, leaving at least one house precariously hanging over the beach near Soundview Drive.

“There was no beach at all,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who owns the Montauk motel The Breakers.

What’s changed:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers buried thousands of geotextile sandbags at the downtown Montauk beach, built dunes and replanted dune grass in a controversial project costing more than $8 million.

Downtown business owners restored sand in front of their properties and rebuilt their buildings. Several of them did so without payments from insurers or government assistance.

The Montauk Fire Department drafted an emergency plan for any future storm isolating Montauk from the rest of the island, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. The plan would “make Montauk as self-sufficient as possible for a time,” he said.

What remains to be done:

Officials are still waiting for a number of projects, the largest of which is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation, an estimated $1.2 billion effort to fortify 83 miles of Long Island’s south shore. The specific measures for Montauk have not yet been determined, but are likely to include filling beaches with dredged sand and raising roads, Army Corps spokesman Jim D’Ambrosio said. The project will not break ground for a couple of years, he said.

“That’s really a key project that needs to be done as soon as possible,” Cantwell said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been approved to fortify a bulkhead area on the north side of Montauk near Culloden Point, Cantwell said. The project is expected to be completed in six to nine months.

— Rachelle Blidner