Voices columnist, Nancy Solomon of Long Island Traditions, offers a regular column entitled “From the Waterfront.”
This column appeared in Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore. Fall/Winter 2017.
As part of the exhibit “In Harm’s Way,” which explores how communities cope with storms and hurricanes, I conducted numerous interviews with local residents, architects, and planners about their experiences with storms and hurricanes. One of those interviewed was the Town of Hempstead Commissioner of Conservation and Waterways, Tom Doheny, who has worked on erosion issues for over 40 years. Like many coastal planners, Commissioner Doheny had seen a wide variety of proposals to prevent future storm damage on Long Island. Although there are some who would like to see floodgates erected, there are factors that could affect the success of such proposals.
“I’m still asking myself what a flood wall would do. When there’s no place for the water to go, it will take the path of least resistance. It’s just going to shunt the water further west. The water will just pile up on it [the wall.] It’s a massive 15-foot wall of steel and concrete that is made to protect infrastructure. They don’t really care if the water goes someplace else. I hope the state is going to do some studies on the hydraulics. The mayor of Freeport wants to put tidal gates in the inlet. The volume of water that comes in the inlet is enormous. I can’t tell you how many millions of gallons of water come in there a day—600,000 cubic yards of sand come in there on the littoral drift every year. A study needs to be done to determine what will happen when the tidal gates holds the water back, from coming into the embayment, as to where the water will go in response to the tide gate.”
To read the full column and access other Voices back issues, please consider becoming a New York Folklore member. To learn more about how communities cope with destructive storms, visit Long Island Traditions’ YouTube playlist “In Harm’s Way.”