The deepest part of the breach that cut through the barrier island at Cupsogue Beach County Park during Superstorm Sandy doubled in width during the nor’easter that swept across the region on Wednesday and Thursday.
The main channel of the breach, which some are now calling “Sandy Inlet,” widened from about 150 feet to some 300 feet during the nor’easter. At low tide the breach inlet is now more than 10 feet deep and water is exchanging between Moriches Bay and the ocean at all times. At high tide the new inlet is about 1,000 feet wide.
State and federal engineers are surveying the Cupsogue breach, which is at the western end of Dune Road. It’s a haunting reminder of a similar breach nearby in the early 1990s that ultimately destroyed more than 100 homes in what is now the Village of West Hampton Dunes.
With that dark memory in mind, the State Department of Environmental Conservation has said it will close the breach immediately—as soon as contracted crews finish closing a similar breach on the other side of Moriches Inlet, in Smith Point County Park on Fire Island.
A DEC spokesperson said that closing the breaches is their top priority and that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Suffolk County are expediting the necessary permits to use material dredged from the Intracoastal Waterway to fill in the cut in the barrier island.
“With the help of the Army Corps, we are taking the first step to fix those breaches,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a statement on Friday. “The state is prepared to allocate funds as quickly as possible ... to protect the bay communities, infrastructure and habitat.”
It still could be weeks before the breach at Cupsogue can be closed.