The south shore of Nassau County is at increasing risk of natural hazards such as coastal erosion, coastal wave action, storm surge, flooding, and severe winds caused by coastal storms. This is largely due to the area’s geography, topography, and land use patterns. Many of the tidally influenced areas of Nassau County are at a low elevation, densely developed with residential and commercial infrastructure, and subject to flooding during high tides and storms.
These problems were highlighted by Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in October 2012 and severely impacted the area. Over 1.3 million Nassau residents were affected by the storm. In response to the destruction caused by the storm, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) completed the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS). The NACCS January 2015 final report identified areas along the Atlantic Coast at high risk of coastal storm damage. The portion of southern Nassau County influenced by back bay flooding was identified as one of these high risk areas. USACE, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and Nassau County have partnered to investigate ways to reduce coastal storm risk in this area. This includes communities in the Town of Hempstead and Town of Oyster Bay located within southern Nassau County, as well as the City of Long Beach, that front Hewlett Bay, Middle Bay, Jones Bay, South Oyster Bay, and connected creeks, channels, and minor waterbodies (the "Nassau County Back Bays").
The purpose of the Nassau County Back Bays feasibility study is to investigate potential ways to reduce the risk to people, critical infrastructure, and businesses caused by coastal storms such as Hurricane Sandy. The study team is investigating potential solutions that could reduce flood risk in ways that support the long‐term resilience and sustainability of communities and the environment, and that reduce the economic costs and risks associated with coastal storm damage. The team will look into the feasibility of a number of measures, which includes but is not limited to storm surge barriers, bulkheads, floodwalls, levees, seawalls, shoreline stabilization, stormwater improvements, beach nourishment, living shorelines, wetland restoration, and the elevation, floodproofing, and/or relocation of structures.