The breach cut by Sandy at Old Inlet on Fire Island is good for wildlife and water quality, scientists say. But it may not be so good for homes near the water, where tidal flows have been flooding streets daily, according to Long Island townsfolk.
CBS New York is reporting that homeowners in the Long Island towns of Lindenhurst and Babylon are fighting floodwaters that don’t come with a storm: they’re the result of ordinary high tides (“Sandy May Be Long Gone, But Flooding Continues On Long Island’s South Shore”).
Residents told CBS 2 reporter Jennifer McLogan that “Sandy changed the character of the inlet so dramatically, that shifting sand is now channeling rushing water back into storm drains and reaching their doorsteps,” the station reports. “It doesn’t have to rain here for the flooding to come up. It just comes up on full moon or high tide,” said one resident.
But what’s bad for people may be good for wildlife, CBS 2 reports. Breaches and channels created by the storm surge are leading to “improved water quality and the return of native marine life in several areas of Long Island, specifically Fire Island and, on the north shore, Sunken Meadow,” the station says (“Superstorm Sandy Brings Cleaner Water, Native Marine Life Back To Long Island”).
Sandy blasted two holes in Fire Island, the station reported in December (“New Maps Reveal Dramatic Post-Sandy State Of Fire Island”). A National Park Service report on the damage says that the agency will close breaches that are not in public parks, but will wait and see about a breach that cut through the island on public land (“Post-Hurricane Sandy: Old Inlet Breach on Fire Island”). So far, the agency’s monitoring shows that the breach varies from week to week, but does not appear to be going away.
What all this means for the long-term flooding in Babylon and Lindenhurst is unclear. Officials there say they hope to install 200 automatic “flapper gates” onto their 100-year-old sewer pipes to stop the backflow of seawater up through the system. They’re asking FEMA for a $600,000 grant to fund the retrofit. But in today’s uncertain world, there’s no telling when, or if, that money may arrive. In the meantime, townsfolk are keeping their waders handy.