Featured Story

Shelter Island preps projects for FEMA aid

Shelter Island has escaped catastrophic damage from major storms that seemed headed its way before veering in other directions. But low-lying areas on the Island have been flooded during events such as Superstorm Sandy, and money was received to help with recovery.

Now President Joe Biden has signed a law creating “Community Disaster Resilience Zones” around the nation, which requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency to  assess natural hazard risk assessment in certain identified areas.

Communities designated by the Resilience Zones would not only be eligible for the usual assistance from FEMA in the event of a disaster, but also assistance to create preventive elements that can prepare an area to resist the worst damage.

Police Chief Jim Read, who coordinates emergency preparedness for the Island, said the town’s grant writer Jennifer Mesiano Higham is exploring a wide assortment of possible grants for the town, while the Capital Planning and Grants Committee works on readying projects that could be shovel ready if opportunities for funding surface.

FEMA grants are included in her efforts, Chief Read said.

“The town has a hazard mitigation plan that we’re working through to address specific areas of the Island that most would consider low-lying areas to address rising tides and major storm flooding,” he said.

Among them are the Ram Island Causeways and the approaches, West Neck Road near West Neck Bay and the Ferry terminals.

“We have attained grant funding and are using tax dollars to develop shovel ready plans at some of these locations, so that when funding opportunities arise, we have the plans in place to attain funding,” Chief Read said.