Those who lived through Hurricane Florence took little solace in the fact that it was “downgraded” to a Category One hurricane shortly before it smashed into North Carolina. It still caused billions of dollars in damage and resulted in flooding so intense some properties affected may never recover.
Coastal communities — take heed, Suffolk County — are imperiled in ways we have yet to imagine if observers are correct when they say Mother Nature’s fury is intensifying. And it doesn’t take a hurricane to remind us: A powerful nor’easter can do enormous damage, especially when combined with high tides.
It should be duly noted we are in the midst of our hurricane season. If you are not prepared, let Florence teach a valuable lesson; you could be vacated from your home for days, weeks, or even a year. You could go weeks without electricity. Remember, Superstorm Sandy only dealt us a glancing blow, and we might not be as fortunate the next time a big storm rolls around.
That said, we are still experiencing one of the most magnificent summers in the history of the East End. Almost every day was a beach day, and that’s what summer in the Hamptons is all about. Temperatures routinely topped 80 degrees. Yes, working people had to cope with some humidity, but all in all, it’s been a summer paradise, and that keeps renters and tourists, who provide a needed lifeline to our economy, coming back. We can’t afford to lose our place as a resort destination.
Planners in all five towns and especially on the South Fork have been fretting about erosion for decades. Yet little to nothing has been done about it, and the state and federal governments have been no better. We cannot keep pretending downtown Montauk is not in danger of being swamped, or that the beaches we love are disappearing.
Erosion control is a mammoth, long-term project, with all government agencies on board, and the monies must be found to do the job once and for all, and get it right.
That means we must resist the temptation to build makeshift cost cutters like the Dirt Beach in Montauk — basically a project we are doomed to throw money at — and commit to more far-reaching (and far costlier) integrated projects. Everyone must pay a share of the cost, including taxpayers townwide, in addition to the property owners directly aggrieved.