Best of 2012: 3) Service prepares and responds to Hurricane Sandy
We’re bringing in the new year with a look back at our milestones for 2012. Check back each day for featured events and activities from across the Northeast!
Hurricane Sandy began her tear up the east coast on October 29, 2012, affecting millions in her path. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took precautions to prepare for the superstorm and evaluate impacts to Service staff and facilities afterwards.
Before the storm made landfall, national wildlife refuges, national fish hatcheries and other Service field stations prepared for the heavy winds, rain, flooding and erosion that were predicted. Field stations activated hurricane action plans before the storm hit by securing boats, equipment and facilities, lowered water levels in freshwater impoundments to prepare for coastal flooding and relocated staff if necessary. Additionally, several offices closed to the public until the storm passed and damage could be assessed. These measures kept preventable damages to our infrastructure to a minimum.
After the storm, the Service quickly established an incident command center in Philadelphia as a central base of operations for storm recovery. As part of the emergency response, 45 trained Service specialists were deployed to help clear downed trees, open trails and roads, or provide law enforcement support on refuges to ensure public safety. Agency employees also delivered equipment and fuel to areas lacking these resources after the storm. A Service-operated helicopter flew aerial surveys along the coast during the week after Sandy to document damages.
The Service sustained an estimated $78 million in storm damages from Hurricane Sandy. After two storms impacted Service facilities and operations, Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy, the Service plans to rebuild impacted structures to be more resilient to future storms.
The North Hollow Road culvert on Marsh Brook in Rochester, Vermont, blew out during Tropical Storm Irene. With funding from the National Fish Passage Program, the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Resource Office worked with partners to replace emergency replacements with a single open arch culvert designed to pass future storm flows, sediment and debris. The replacement creates improved resilience for the road and native brook trout.
In Rhode Island, Hurricane Sandy washed out the only public road to Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. The Service is working with the Federal Highway Administration and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to repair the road with structures that will help shield it against future storms.