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Bellone: "We Want That Breach To Be Closed Now"

County officials blame recent flooding on inlet breach caused by Hurricane Sandy.

When Hurricane Sandy swept ashore in October, the historic storm significantly altered the shoreline along Suffolk County's south shore and left a breach at Old Inlet on Fire Island.

Now, county officials are blaming the breach for the increase in flooding experienced by residents in many communities that touch the Great South Bay. 

During a press conference held at Shorefront Park in Patchogue Village Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was joined by numerous county, town and village officials and called for the breach to be repaired.

"We want that breach to be closed now," Bellone said. "We've seen flooding in places that have never been flooded before, and I think without question the answer is now that we need to close this breach."

Joining Bellone at the press conference was Brookhaven Town Councilman Tim Mazzei, Suffolk County Legislator Wayne Horsley, Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, Islip Town Councilman John Cochrane, Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino, Babylon Village Trustee Tony Davida, Lindenhurst Village deputy administrator Doug Madlon and Lindenhurst Village Emergency Manager Ray Fais.

Bellone acknowledged that it will take time to bring in the necessary equipment to close the breach, and that it is possible the breach will start to close on its own within that duration. However, he urged an immediate need to begin.

He also said that there is a debate over whether or not sealing the breach is the answer, and representatives from nature organizations came to the conference with concerns that this is a misdiagnosis.

Carl LoBue of the Nature Conservancy told Patch before the press conference that his organization feels that there are benefits to the breach and it would be better to prepare lower lying communities on how to deal with more frequent flooding. 

Maureen Dolan Murphy of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said that science is showing that breaches such as these are not the cause of flooding issues like those seen recently along the south shore. A letter to the editor regarding not wanting the breach to be closed was also sent to Patch in January.

Bellone said that he is not concerned with this debate.

"I'm concerned with the residents who live along the south shore who have suffered enough, and if this breach is contributing one iota to that continued suffering, then it needs to be closed now," Bellone said.

According to shoreline position data from the National Parks Service from Feb. 28, the Old Inlet breach is currently 682 feet in length, with a width at the north end (bay side) of 616 feet and a width at the south end (ocean side) of 1,171 feet. This is a slight decrease from the 908 foot length measured in early November, and a width increase from the 276 feet north end and 108 feet south end measurements from the same time.

“It’s common sense we have more water in this bay than we are used to and we are seeing it west of that new inlet,” said Cochrane.

He noted that several waterfront businesses such as Molly Malone’s and Captain Bill’s spent tremendous amounts of money to reopen following Hurricane Sandy but were again closed down this past weekend because of flooding at height of a busy weekend in Bay Shore.

Bellone said that New York State's Department of Environmenal Conservation (DEC) must sign off on the order to close the breach. He noted at in the press conference that there was a debate among the DEC officials as to whether the breach is the cause of the flooding issues, but declined to give more details.

Bellone also did not want to put a time line on how long the breach closure would take due to the number of federal agencies it would go through.

Also Check Out:

A Look At Fire Island's Breach at Old Inlet

Sayville Resident March 14, 2013 at 05:49 PM
There was flooding all up and down the East Coast this weekend. Accurate, objective scientific measurements have shown that the tides in the bay have not been impacted by the breach.There are already inlets to the bay from the Atlantic at both ends, so the bay water level is going to be the same as in the ocean, more or less. Fire Island is not a dam. All it does is keep the large ocean waves from directly impacting the South Shore of Long Island. There is no evidence whatsover that this is what is happening. All of the credible experts are saying the flooding that has occurred recently is not a result of the breach. What is more likely is that political insiders have whispered in the politican's ears about lack of access by driving to waterfront homes west of the breach, and the politicians are grabbing photo ops and getting up on soapboxes to build support by using fear. Bellone should be spending his time trying to close the $250,000,000 "breach" in the county budget, and Cochrane should spare us his "common sense". Flooding at Captain Bill's may be a big deal to the political insiders he lives to serve, but recklessly spending public funds on an unsubstantiated knee-jerk approach to solve this problem demonstrates the incompetence and arrogance of our local elected officials and their puppet-masters.
Jack Latch March 14, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Bellone is right......... While I love the fact that the canal water looks as clean as I've ever seen it, the flooding since Sandy has been brutal.......... Full moon tides, combined with a wind from the east are now sending water into spots that were only flooded during major storms or Hurricanes in the past........West Islip and Babylon seem to be getting the worst of it....
John Hancock March 14, 2013 at 06:34 PM
So Sayville resident what is the cause of my home and street flooding 5 times this year since the breach as compared to 1 to 2 times time for the last 35 years? The levels are not the same when a breach current pulls in water faster. Have you ever seen the surfers who create breaches next to rivers and ocean. Water rises pulling in more sand and increases flooding along break. Look it up on YouTube. No science needed.
Bringbackthebay March 15, 2013 at 07:26 AM
Leave it open and watch the bay come back to life. Mother natures way of flushing out the dead toxic water with fresh clean ocean water. Let it be.
Justin Flagg March 21, 2013 at 03:12 PM
Here's a petition asking our elected officials not to waste millions of dollars closing the New Inlet. Please sign it and pass it on - http://www.change.org/petitions/do-not-close-the-breach-at-old-inlet.

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