Disaster and Recovery Initiatives Along the Atlantic Coast

Emergency Response

Since Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Brigantine, New Jersey, on October 29, 2012, BOEM has supported localities, states, and federal agencies with their need for OCS sand for beach nourishment and coastal restoration projects (see fact sheet).  The MMP's emergency response to Hurricane Sandy entailed developing a streamlined process to respond to requests for OCS sand needed to recover from the effects of the hurricane. By creating an expedited process to manage OCS sand requests, the MMP aided in the restoration of a number of coastal areas by providing additional protection against future storms, renourishing beaches for recreational use, both of which provide public benefit, and supporting coastal ecosystems and associated biota such as turtles.

The immediate and long-term areas of focus for the MMP included the following:

  • Communicating with stakeholders in areas of need to understand the level of restoration that could be requested
  • Evaluating what OCS sand resources have been previously identified as suitable for coastal restoration
  • Identifying environmental concerns in preparation of potential projects.
  • Working with the states to update their data bases and maps of offshore sand resource areas to respond quickly if sand resources are needed in the future.
Department of Interior Hurricane Sandy Response Web Map,  including BOEM projects noted by turquoise diamonds
Department of Interior Hurricane Sandy Response Web Map,
including BOEM projects noted by turquoise diamonds

Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Initiatives

In 2013 BOEM received $13.6 million through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act and in 2016 an additional $2.7 million to address critical needs for OCS sand and gravel throughout the coastal areas undergoing recovery and rebuilding (Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy Spending Plan). BOEM has utilized approximately $6 million of these funds for cooperative agreements with the Atlantic coast states to support identification of OCS resources for projects as well as determine future sand needs (See state-by-state information here).

BOEM is also using approximately $6.2 million to conduct geophysical and geological surveys in priority data gap areas located 3 – 8 nautical miles offshore from Massachusetts to Miami, Florida in order to identify and delineate new potential OCS sand resources. This initiative, called the Atlantic Sand Assessment Project (ASAP), is providing valuable information on offshore sand resources for potential use in coastal restoration projects (see fact sheet ). BOEM anticipates that OCS sand will be needed for restoration activities to mitigate Hurricane Sandy impacts on beaches, communities, and State and Federal land, as well as support regional coastal resiliency efforts. In addition to supporting these project needs, BOEM is working with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Core Repository to store archived halves of the vibracores collected and make them available to researchers addressing such topics as climate change and sea level rise.

BOEM evaluated potential impacts that could result from conducting geophysical and geologic surveys to map OCS sand resources. Specific mitigation measures were included as part of the proposed action in the planning stage to avoid or minimize effects on environmental resources and historic properties. BOEM prepared an Environmental Assessment for this purpose, and signed a Finding of No Significant Impact.

Research and Resources Available

BOEM, through the Marine Minerals Program, was invited to participate in the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study – Reducing Risk and Building Resilience. The purpose of the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study was to develop a strategy to reduce risk and increase resiliency to populations affected by Hurricane Sandy and those areas vulnerable to tidally-influenced flooding and storm surge in areas within the boundaries of the USACE North Atlantic Division. The intent of this study is to bring together Federal agencies, States, local, and Tribal governments, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations together to gather information and input on how to build resilience and reduce risk for those areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Participants will identify actions that can create resilience and reduce risk along the coastline. For more information, see the USACE North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study.

Fact Sheets: