East Coast Recovery from Sandy Continues
Reports continue to roll in on the impact Superstorm Sandy had on parks and campgrounds in the East.
Storm damage is considerable in the greater New York City region.
Superstorm Sandy has substantially damaged historic Jones Beach State Park and swamped a beach at nearby Robert Moses State Park deep under roiling seawater, the Associated Press reported.
Sandy wreaked substantial, widespread damage on the Jones Beach park, where the administration building remained flooded Wednesday (Oct. 31). Many of the beach boardwalks were heaved upward, and the beach at Field 6 was eroded to the boardwalk, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said.
A traffic circle around the landmark tower at Robert Moses State Park was undermined, and the road collapsed. Field 5’s beach was completely eroded, and the storm significantly damaged the boardwalk.
Cuomo’s office on Wednesday released an aerial view of Robert Moses State Park squeezed on two sides by the Atlantic Ocean as superstorm Sandy threatened it for millions of vacationers. The park, part of a series of state parks on Long Island, has been blocked from street traffic for days.
Cuomo took top officials on an aerial tour of Long Island, New York City and Westchester County. The tour revealed for the first time the extent of damage from the superstorm, which struck the area Monday and killed more than 30 people in New York state and more than 60 in the United States overall.
“Words like devastated, catastrophic come to mind,” said George Gorman, deputy regional director of state parks on Long Island.
He said the entire beachfront at Robert Moses State Park in Babylon, about 15 miles east of Jones Beach, eroded to the point that it was washed out.
The driving lanes “fell into the Atlantic,” he said. “They’re right there at the bottom.”
“I’ve been with state parks for more than 30 years,” Gorman said. “This is the most damage I’ve ever seen.”
In Connecticut, Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme lost a 7-foot dune, untold yards of beach sand and about 120 feet of boardwalk in Hurricane Sandy, sustaining the heaviest damage of the region’s state parks, the day.com, New London, reported.
Repairs have begun. The park will remain closed until crews ensure it will be safe for the public, said John Cimochowski, assistant director of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s state parks division.
“The good news is that a lot of the sections of the boardwalk that broke away floated onto the jetty and are repairable,” Cimochowski said Wednesday afternoon, as three payloaders plucked sections of boardwalk off the rocky jetty.
Cimochowski spent the day visiting the state’s shoreline parks to assess damage. Fort Griswold in Groton and Fort Trumbull in New London came through the storm unscathed, he said. Fort Trumbull, along with Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown, was among 10 parks reopened Wednesday after being closed since Monday for the storm. The tower at Fort Griswold is closed for the season, but the grounds are open.
At Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford, some slate shingles were lost off the roof of Eolia, the mansion on the former estate, and on an adjacent storage building. Some large trees were toppled by the storm, debris carried by storm surge covered several yards of the great lawn and a huge gouge of sand was taken out of the beach, which had been heavily damaged by Tropical Storm Irene last year.
A wooden platform and walkway onto the beach, repaired after Irene, was destroyed again, Cimochowski said.
“The stairs are sitting on the beach,” he said.
The channel at Goshen Cove, reconfigured by Irene, was shifted again by Sandy.
“This storm ripped it right open to its old natural channel,” he said.
He hopes Harkness will be able to reopen within the next few days.
At Rocky Neck, the boardwalk, just completed this year, will be repaired, using some of the retrieved sections, he added. The Ellie Mitchell Pavillion, build by Works Progress Administration during the FDR administration, lost several slate shingles off its roof, and others are hanging loose. The building will have to be cordoned off until repairs can be made, he said.
As for the beach, parks crews will restore a gradual slope between an area of shrubs and pine trees and the beach. The storm cut a sharp and dangerous dropoff between the two areas, Cimochowski said.
Otherwise, he said, the plan is let the beach repair itself as new sand is brought in by tides and future storms. Because of rail lines behind the beach, there is no access for the kinds of heavy equipment that would be needed to bring in new sand.
“So we’ll just let nature do what nature does,” he said.
Elsewhere in the state, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reports that 10 state parks and forests have now re-opened.
Other remaining parks and forests are closed while DEEP completes an assessment of the damage. The DEEP is working diligently to make parks safe for the public, and will re-open them as soon as conditions allow.
National Park Update
Damage from Superstorm Sandy was not limited to heavily populated cities along the Eastern Seaboard. Up and down the East Coast and farther inland, heavy winds, tidal surge, rain and snow caused significant damage to national parks, CNN reported.
As of Tuesday night, 69 parks were either closed or partially cordoned off because of the storm, according to the National Park Service, a bureau of the Department of Interior.
More than 100 park employees were being deployed to the hardest hit areas, with a focus on northern New Jersey and harbor parks in New York City.
Electrical and mechanical systems on Ellis Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, were reported under water, the park service said Wednesday. Liberty Island may have lost all high voltage equipment, a news release said, and in addition, a fuel tank was dislodged.
The National Parks of New York Harbor suffered extensive flooding, especially in Manhattan’s Battery Park.
Roads were impassable on Fire Island, and on Governors Island, which lost a dock, buildings are filled with two to three feet of water.
The Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes Sandy Hook and Breezy Point, was also heavily damaged.
In New Jersey, Morristown National Historical Park, which commemorates the site of Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army’s winter encampment in 1779, is closed with hundreds of trees reported down.
Power was out at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania. Trees were down and debris scattered about, but park officials said there is no significant damage to historic structures.
All National Capital Region parks were closed Wednesday, including portions of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Officials caution that flooding is possible ov
New York officials have closed all state parks on Long Island due to dangerous conditions at these favorite local getaways.
The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said parks will be closed until further notice because of scenarios ranging from downed trees and dangling branches, to beach erosion and damaged boardwalks, all due to Hurricane Sandy’s punishing assault on the region.
The office also said some roadways leading to parks are damaged, such as Ocean Parkway, which saw sections of its eastbound lane washed out by the ocean.
In West Virginia, West Virginia’s state park crews are digging out of snow, clearing roadways and restoring electric and telephone service.
The state Division of Natural Resources says about 70% of the state park forest was covered in snow ranging from one inch to two feet in some areas.
West Virginia State Parks and Recreation Chief Ken Caplinger said most areas also received extensive rainfall and varying degrees of wind, which resulted in many fallen trees.
Park staff, volunteers and contractors are working on repairs and officials anticipate all parks will be back to normal by the weekend. Those planning to visit a state park should call the location directly for current conditions or check the West Virginia State Parks website at www.wvstateparks.com.
Click here to read more about damage in Virginia parks courtesy of National Parks Traveler.
On Maryland’s Atlantic Ocean coastline, while Hurricane Sandy tossed numerous impacts at Assateague Island National Seashore, the seashore’s ponies weathered the storm just fine, according to park officials.
National Parks Traveler reported, “They are acting as if nothing happened,” says Rachelle Daigneault, the seashore’s chief of interpretation, who checked on the ponies. “They’ve been here 300 years. They’ve not only survived, but they’ve thrived.”
Also in Maryland, Warren Glotfelty at Double G Campground at Deep Creek Lake, reported to Woodall’s Campground Management, “All is well here just a couple of feet of snow and a day of no power, but other than that all is good. Hope all is well throughout the state and if anyone is down and out and needs help let us know we will help if we can.”