Montauk Took a Beating in Storm

Downtown sandbags exposed; more storms on the way
On the downtown Montauk beach, a northeaster with exceptionally high tides gouged away sand, exposing the sandbag seawall placed there two years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers. Jane Bimson

Downtown Montauk’s ocean beach and bay beaches in the Town of East Hampton “took a beating” in the northeaster that hit the South Fork on Friday and Saturday, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said at the town board’s work session on Tuesday, though the town was spared the greater damage and higher winds experienced to the north. 

The storm exposed much of the 3,100-foot revetment formed by sand-filled geotextile tubes at the ocean beach in downtown Montauk, constructed as a short-term measure to protect shoreline businesses from flooding while the town awaits the Army Corps of Engineers’ long-term coastal plan, the Fire Island to Montauk Point reformulation study, or FIMP. 

“We did lose a great deal of sand,” the supervisor said. “Where it’s most noticeable, I would say, is along the downtown stretch in Montauk. Most of the bags there are exposed.” But, he said, “I think it’s safe to say we’d be looking at hotel foundations and exposed cesspools and swimming pools tilting over the edge” had the revetment not been constructed. “That was an emergency interim project while we wait for FIMP to come with a sand-only major replenishment.”

The town and Suffolk County are responsible for replenishing sand to cover the revetment and must do so by May 15, Mr. Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday. Yesterday, he said that the cost of the replenishment was yet to be determined, pending a post-storm assessment. Pre-storm measurements had pointed to a cost in the range of $300,000, he said, “but clearly things have changed.” 

“That is an added expense to the town,” the supervisor said on Tuesday. The town board had budgeted $1.5 million for such projects, “but it also has sparked some conversation about erosion control districts within the town,” he said, “where we would have some of those costs, if not all, offset by specific districts. Those who benefit most from those projects and that sand would be asked to contribute a commensurate amount. That’s something that’s going to be ongoing in terms of discussion that I think we should be focusing on while we wait for the Fire Island-to-Montauk reformulation to be completed and receive that federal project.”

The sand replenishment will happen as close to the summer season as is practicable, Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “We want to be outside of the storm season, and we don’t want to put sand up there that’s going to be immediately at risk” of being washed away, he said. Wave action will tend to push sand back on to the beach, promoting a natural recovery, he added. 

Bay beaches at Barnes Landing and along Cranberry Hole Road in Amagansett also suffered erosion, Mr. Van Scoyoc said at the work session, and Gerard Drive, in Springs, was breached. 

Falling trees killed eight people throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions during the storm, and 2.7 million people lost electricity. Another northeaster was projected to arrive yesterday, and yet another storm is forecast for Monday. 

“We’ll be moving forward to make sure that everything’s in place, that that beach gets restored to its normal conditions prior to the beginning of the season,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said of downtown Montauk’s ocean beach. But, he added, “It’s going to be an ongoing issue that we as a coastal community will have to deal with.”

Huge waves broke near Montauk Point on Sunday.David E. Rattray