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Massive Beach Erosion Caused By Winter Storm Has Community Activists In The Rockaways Very Concerned

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- While many were still digging out of the snow on Wednesday morning, coastal communities were dealing with flooding and erosion.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge went to The Rockaways, where the beach is disappearing.

A ramp where she was standing would usually lead right onto the sand. Instead, she saw a several-foot drop into the water. And when she looked out on the beach, what would normal be miles of sand is now just a sliver.

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Video shows a sanitation truck submerged in water and ice and floating down Beach Channel Drive on Tuesday.

Two days of snow made the usual flooding in Rockaway Beach much worse, and the huge waves ate away at the dunes, protective barriers along the beach that keep the ocean out.

"I walk down and I see the erosion starting over here where we are, we're at 130th, and then as we went further and further, it got worse and worse," Rockaway Beach resident John Reinhardt said.

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Reinhardt took photos of the serious storm damage to the beach, which included broken fencing, mangled ramps and miles of sand washed away.

"This one was significant because we now have massive erosion to the dune, our only protective measure," John Cori said.

Cori is a beach activist who started the group Friends of Rockaway Beach. Since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, his group has been calling on the city to reinforce the beach to prevent flooding.

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Finally in 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started a several-year project to build up the jetties and dredged 300,000 cubic yards of sand to refurbish the beach.

Rockaway Beach erosion
(Photo: CBS2)

The top picture is what the beach looked like when it was finally restored, but the picture on the bottom was the exact spot on Wednesday, showing all that work wiped away again.

"As a lifelong resident, we're going to see water on the streets if we don't have sand put on the these beaches this year," Cori said.

Cori said he worries the next hurricane season will devastate the community, and, in turn, all the surrounding businesses that are already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic. Not to mention there will be limited beachfront for New Yorkers to enjoy come summer.

Friends of Rockaway Beach said more jetties need to be built to keep the sand in place, but added that is a several-year-long project. At the very least, the group want to see temporary loads of sand brought in, not only for the summer but also to reinforce the beach before the next hurricane season starts.

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