20 Oct Remembering Sandy
Hello Everyone! It has been a few weeks since my previous blog post and this one is a bit different. This post is dedicated to the fifth year anniversary since Hurricane Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy hit New York on October 29th, 2012. I remember sitting in the living room with my family attempting to study as the world outside was in chaos. The days following Sandy felt surreal. Countless neighborhoods were flooded, trees and power lines were down on almost every street, and most people lost power. Despite everything around us falling apart the community seemed to be stronger than ever. It took several weeks to remove most of the debris and for everyone to regain power. My house was without power for 3 weeks, but we were still some of the more fortunate in that department. Working at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS) has given me a different perspective on the effects and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Now let me give you a bit of background information. I live on the North Shore of Long Island and Fire Island is located along the South Shore of Long Island. The distance from the north shore to the south shore is roughly 20 miles (maybe more depending on where you are). The Long Island Expressway is almost like the dividing line between shores, and it is not that uncommon to find a north shore resident who has never been to the south shore or vice versa. So, I was not entirely aware of how Sandy affected the south shore.
Fire Island is a barrier island which means that it plays a huge role in protecting Long Island from threats such as storms. Thanks to Fire Island the damage sustained was not as bad as it could have been. One of the first things I learned during my time at FIIS was that the breach is a result of Sandy. You use to be able to walk from end to end of Fire Island. Visitors frequently share their stories reminiscing on days before the breach existed. It blows my mind when I look at pictures that were taken following Sandy, especially since I have only ever seen FIIS in it’s “perfect” state. The photos show damaged houses and boardwalks, flooding, and water damage. It has been 5 years and work is still being done to fix the destruction left by Sandy. For example: Watch Hill was closed this season because work is being done to fix Sandy damage and to make it more resilient towards any future storms. Although Hurricane Sandy could have been seen entirely as a tragedy, there is good coming from it in the long run.
FIIS was not the only National Park Site affected by Sandy. Some other coastal National Parks affected were Gateway National Recreation Area, Assateague Island National Seashore, and Cape Cod National Seashore. Due to Hurricane Sandy these Northeast region parks have had the opportunity to work on Sandy-funded science. One of the research projects currently underway is Submerged Habitat Mapping. This research will allow scientist to better understand underwater ecosystems and how they are affected by other environmental factors. For more information on Submerged Habitat Mapping check out this Research Brief. Another research project is Elevation Mapping. Researchers are using high-resolution elevation markers to measure the height of low-lying structures. This information is important because it allows parks to rebuild structures, such as boardwalks, in a way that minimal damage is sustained during flooding. To learn more read the article: Protecting Coastal Treasures from Future Floods. Local universities are also conducting research to learn more about coastal parks. University of Rhode Island, Rutgers University, and Stony Brook University are just some of universities involved in coastal science. Dr. Charles Flagg from Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) conducts aerial surveys of the Old Inlet Breach. The photos document how the breach changes over time and aid in further understanding the effects of the breach on barrier island dynamics. To see more images of the breach and to learn more click on Dr. Flagg’s name above. These are a few of the research projects currently underway at Northeast coastal parks. Before this summer I was unaware of the effort being put in to better protect us from future storms. It brings a slight sense of comfort considering how rough this hurricane season has been. For more information check out your parks website or follow them on social media.