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Project to Protect Breezy Point From Another Storm Underway, But Not Without Controversy

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TWC News: Project to Protect Breezy Point From Another Storm Underway, But Not Without Controversy
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After Hurricane Sandy, the Breezy Point neighborhood of Rockaway, Queens is only now re-emerging. What flood waters didn't destroy, fire did. Now a major project to protect the community is underway. But it's not without controversy. Josh Robin has the story you will only see on NY1.

In 2012, the scene at Breezy Point was disastrous, with 350 homes destroyed by flood and fire.

One spot on Hudson Walk sums up Breezy Point today. Number 15, on the right. What was number 13, left.

"We probably got another couple of years before we see this community back to the point it was before Sandy,” said Arthur Lighthall of the Breezy Point Cooperative.

Of course Breezy Point will never look the same.

Soon, neither will the beaches.

Two oceanfront dunes are to be built, enough to protect against once-in-a-hundred-year floods.

On the bay side, there will be other barriers.

"That's really going to reduce the vulnerability out here in this neighborhood, in Breezy Point,” said Daniel Zarrilli of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

Nobody has time frames yet. Technical study comes first. In all, it could cost more than $57 million in federal and local money.

Up until recently some feared the projects would never be done. That's because Breezy Point is a gated community with private beaches. Officials said if federal taxes were to be used the beaches would likely have to be opened for everyone . And that's something that this community has long fought against.

The beaches will remain closed to the public.

"People live in all kinds of circumstances in this state, public access, private access. Where folks decide to live shouldn't prevent them from the benefit of protection from the next storm,” said Jamie Rubin of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

Homes rebuilt in Breezy are already more resilient. They're raised off the sand with mechanicals tucked in the attic.

Some of the city-run Build it Back projects are making progress, while others are still waiting for materials.

It's obvious what's unfinished here, not under Build it Back.

"Although they are here in the parking lot most days, they're are not coming to this house to finish the work,” said Trish Manning McEwen.

State and city officials insist they are working fast, without turf battles.

"The amount of times that we're all around a table and a map together, I cannot count,” said Kate Dineen of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

Still, there may be reluctance to share the spotlight.

Interviews for this story with state and city officials had to be rescheduled for separate days.

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