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Posts Tagged ‘hurricane sandy’

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Photo: Wayne Hathaway
The endangered Piping Plover is a species that actually benefited from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 — at least on Fire Island.

It’s a ill wind that blows nobody good, as they say, and the ill wind of Hurricane Sandy seems to be a case in point. As devastating as it was along the East Coast, there are reasons why an endangered shore bird benefited on Fire Island, a place I spent many youthful summers. Annie Roth has the story at the New York Times.

“The wrath of Hurricane Sandy’s powerful winds and violent storm surge left considerable damage across New York and New Jersey in October 2012. But for one tiny bird, the cataclysmic storm has been a big help. …

“The piping plover is a small, migratory shorebird that nests along North America’s Great Lakes and Atlantic Coast. The species, which is listed as endangered in New York State and threatened federally, has been the focus of intensive conservation efforts for decades. But on one island that was heavily damaged by the big storm, the piping plover population has increased by 93 percent, [as Katie Walker, a graduate student in wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech] and colleagues reported in the journal Ecosphere. …

“Fire Island, a 32-mile-long barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island that is popular with vacationers, was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy. The storm washed sand and seawater across the island, flooding homes, flattening dunes and breaching the island in three places.

“Sand deposited from Fire Island’s oceanside onto its bayside created a number of new sand flats. Some areas were also breached by seawater but most were filled by the Army Corps of Engineers shortly after the storm as part of the recovery effort. …

“Piping plovers like to nest on dry, flat sand close to the shoreline, where the insects and crustaceans they feed on are easily accessible. But over the past century, coastal development and recreational use of shorelines have vastly reduced the amount of waterfront property available. …

“For the past three years, the majority of new and returning plovers chose to nest in habitats generated by the storm. And now, for the first time in nearly a decade, Fire Island’s population of piping plovers is growing. …

“Barrier islands like Fire Island are known as early successional habitats, which means they require regular disturbance events to keep their ecosystems in check. Under normal circumstances, Fire Island would experience disturbance events on an annual basis. However, engineers have gone to great lengths to stabilize the island, and now only powerful storms like Sandy are able to have a significant impact on the island’s ecosystem.

“ ‘Barrier islands are very dynamic systems, they don’t stay the same from one year to the next. The species that inhabit them there are adapted to these changes, so if we try to keep these systems static, we are going to lose these species,’ said [Jonathan Cohen, assistant professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, who was not involved with the study].

“Last year, 486 pairs of piping plovers nested along the shores of New York and New Jersey, approximately 10 percent of which did so on Fire Island. If current trends continue, the two states may soon reach their recovery goal of 575 breeding pairs set out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”

More at the New York Times, here.

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Photo: Judy Benson, Day Staff Writer
Kevin McBride, far right, anthropology professor at the University of Connecticut and director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, contemplates artifacts uncovered by Hurricane Sandy.

Today I’m linking to a couple articles about the work of Prof. Kevin McBride, director of research at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum in Connecticut. The first describes how he found a mutually beneficial way to work with metal detectionists so that details of finds would not be lost.

The partnership is surprising as archaeologists put a high priority on removing artifacts from their surroundings in a scientific way, and are usually at loggerheads with people using metal detectors.

The New York Times, where I read about this, has new firewalls that make it hard to share excerpts of articles like this one, alas, so I scouted out a related article by Judy Benson, a Day staff writer. In this one, Kevin McBride’s team turned up signs of Manisses activity on Block Island after Hurricane Sandy.

Judy Benson wrote, “Each no bigger than a fingernail, the two brown shards easily could have been mistaken for insignificant bits of rock, hardly a fitting reward for a day’s work. But to Kevin McBride and his dozen-member archaeology crew … at Grace’s Cove beach [that was] exactly what all the careful digging, scraping and sifting were about. … They probably are pieces of pottery left by the Manissee tribe that once inhabited the island. …

“McBride has been running archaeological digs here since 1983, but it wasn’t until 2012, when Superstorm Sandy gouged out broad sections of these dunes, that his chance to lead this project — the most comprehensive archaeological study of Block Island that’s ever been done, he said — came along. The state of Rhode Island decided to use about $500,000 of federal storm relief funds earmarked for assessments of cultural resources damaged by the storm to fund archaeological work along the state’s shoreline and the Block Island coast. …

” ‘Sandy did things to this island’s coastline that no one’s ever seen before, stripping away these dunes. The sites we’re focusing on are at risk in the next storm. The artifacts we’re finding will be lost if you don’t pick them up.’ ”

More at the Day, here.

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In March, ecoRI posted an article about a Rockefeller Foundation proposal for  protection of four sensitive coastal areas.

The website reports, “Leading climate scientists, engineers, designers and scholars recently collaborated to create comprehensive resiliency design proposals for vulnerable coasts along the North Atlantic, such as Rhode Island’s.

Structures of Coastal Resilience (SCR), a Rockefeller Foundation-supported project dedicated to providing resilient design proposals for urban coastal environments, focuses on four vulnerable coasts: Narragansett Bay; Jamaica Bay in New York; Atlantic City in New Jersey; and Norfolk, Va.

“Each of the project locations feature ongoing projects by the Army Corps of Engineers, and each location is highly prone to flooding and socioeconomic vulnerability, according to project officials. The goal of SCR is provide actionable project recommendations for hurricane protection and climate adaptation. …

“As Rhode Island was spared the worst of the devastation associated with Hurricane Sandy [in 2012], it’s an ideal location for developing structures of coastal resilience that can be advanced gradually and through systematic evaluation and adaptation, according to project officials. …

“As increased urban runoff and higher saltwater levels merge on the coastal zone, some species are threatened while others adapt. Marsh and dunes recede while weedy forest cover creeps closer to the beachfront. Plants with high salt tolerance that are capable of rapid establishment have begun to colonize areas with accommodating soil. Designers can capitalize on this process, deploying plants to prevent erosion and build resilient coasts.” More here.

Folks, a woman involved with a movie about saving the oceans (Revolution) e-mailed to ask if I would review it, and I said sure. So watch this space.

Photo: CityData.com

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Not sure which of many delightful aspects of this story I like best: that there are programs offering free swim lessons, that a teenager decided he needed to learn to swim, or that a dad whose son enrolled in lessons decided to take lessons himself and then gave back by teaching others.

Lisa W. Foderado writes at the NY Times, “After Hurricane Sandy brought the ocean to his doorstep, Kenrick Sultan felt a new sense of vulnerability. A shy 15-year-old, he has lived by water his entire life — but he never learned how to swim. …

“Having watched the waters of Hurricane Sandy creep up his street, Kenrick finally decided to conquer his fear of the water … Looking slightly terrified behind blue-tinted goggles, Kenrick lowered his slender frame into a pool at a nearby high school. Alongside him stood Ray Belmont, a volunteer instructor  …

“Five years earlier, Kenrick’s best friend, Raynald Chance Belmont, 15, had learned from Swim Strong, which is administered and staffed entirely by volunteers. Because swim lessons typically cost as much as $1 a minute, learning to swim can be something of a luxury …

“Swim Strong is only one of a number of programs giving free or low-cost swim lessons to New Yorkers. The largest, by far, is a program called Learn to Swim offered by the city’s parks department, which provides free swim lessons at select pools through an online lottery system throughout the year. In the fiscal year that ended in June, the department taught 27,709 children and 1,110 adults to swim. …

“‘ After Chance learned to swim, his father, Ray Belmont, asked if he could sign up for lessons, too.

“ ‘It was always a goal,’ recalled Mr. Belmont, 39, a property underwriter. ‘It was huge for me. It was a big accomplishment. I’m two blocks from the ocean and before, if something happened to my children, I wouldn’t be able to help them. As an adult, there’s a different kind of fear. I had to overcome that by getting lessons for myself.’

“Like a number of Swim Strong alumni, Mr. Belmont decided to give back by volunteering as an instructor. He was eager to teach his son’s friend.”

More.

Photo: Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Kenrick Sultan, 15, with Ray Belmont, left, a volunteer teacher with a New York nonprofit group.

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Today I had an amusing back and forth with Fire Islanders past and present. It was about a fund raiser for what we used to call “Group” back when I was a day camper and later a counselor and writer-director of teenage musicals.

The fundraiser is to restore the Ocean Beach Youth Group (“Group”) building below, which was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy. From the first e-mail:

“Food . Beer & Wine . Auction . Guest Bartenders . Tequila Tasting
“Sun., Jan. 6, 2013, 4-7 pm @ Rodeo Bar, 375 Third Avenue, NYC
“$50 cash/check at door, 21+
“$30 for 16-20 For advance tickets or to make a donation, visit http://www.nycharities.org/Events/EventLevels.aspx?ETID=5691 OBYG is a 501(c)3 organization.
“As an added bonus Tony Roberts of Broadway fame and Youth Group Alumnus will be our guest.”

I wrote back that I was in one of Tony Roberts’s teenage plays (back when his name was still Dave) and can sing most of the lyrics to the theme song of his show Like You Like It.

I then indulged in some contradictory reminiscing with my first co-writer/director and with the daughter of playwright Arnold Horwitt, who was an adviser on the first show we wrote.

“Memories can be beautiful and yet” … (Oh, sorry, we used to burst into song a lot.)

But about memories. I know I have the most accurate memories for the shows I worked on, yet friends keep remembering differently. And who can blame Arnold Horwitt’s daughter, for example, if she thinks her father wrote all the lyrics to our “Return of the Native” when he only contributed the song that he had already written for a cruise to fight a bridge, “Everything’s Coming Up Moses”? He was a huge support, and that’s what she gets right.

Want me to sing anything for you?

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I liked a Nov. 19 editorial in the NY Times: “Day Laborers, Helping Hands.” It shows that attitudes about immigration can be affected by circumstances.

“About 50 or so people gathered outside a storm-ruined taco restaurant on Saturday morning in Coney Island, on a backstreet behind the Boardwalk near the Wonder Wheel. They were day laborers, Hispanic men and women who have been spending weekends as a volunteer brigade, helping other people chip away at the mountains of debris and accepting nothing in return except work gloves, face masks and safety information cards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They came from all over the region, including a day labor hiring center in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, that Hurricane Sandy had washed away.

“It’s not unusual to find day laborers looking for work after a disaster. What was striking was the warmth and gratitude they found. They even had an official welcome, from the local state assemblyman, Alec Brook-Krasny, and two City Council members — Domenic Recchia Jr. of Coney Island and Vincent Gentile of Bensonhurst.

“They thanked everyone for coming and pledged to get the Bensonhurst work center open again. A man from the laborers’ union gave a safety lecture. …  ‘We are all New Yorkers,’ said Mr. Recchia, who had brought a box of masks. An observer used to the anti-Latino screeds of politicians on Long Island, a few miles east, marveled at the sense of community — the feeling that after a disaster, immigration status didn’t matter, only a willingness to help.”

Although I took this photo in downtown Boston, the union mural seemed fitting, suggesting the importance of keeping fairness in mind after the crisis has passed.

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