Press Release: Save the Sound President Reflects on 10 Years of Hard Work Helping the Long Island Sound Region Recover from Superstorm Sandy

The upcoming 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy provides an opportunity for environmental leaders to reflect on the damage suffered by the Long Island Sound region on October 29, 2012, and also on a decade’s worth of necessary work making communities in New York and Connecticut more resilient in the face of climate change and severe storms that are growing in intensity and frequency.

Leah Lopez Schmalz, new president of Save the Sound, reflected on Sandy’s impact to the region, how Save the Sound has worked to improve readiness and resiliency since, and critical action that must still be done.

“Ten years ago this Saturday, Superstorm Sandy bullied its way through our region, leaving a trail of destruction still felt deeply by families and entire communities a decade later. Sandy struck on October 29, 2012, just a year after two other historic storms, Hurricane Irene and the October blizzard, dealt their own brand of devastation to New York and Connecticut. Together, that trio of severe storms awakened everyone in our area to an undeniable reality: the monster storms and rising seas wrought by climate change are a problem we all must address together.

“None of us escaped Sandy unaffected. A quarter-million Connecticut residents lost trees, property, and power for weeks. On Westchester County’s Sound Shore, families’ yards and basements flooded with irrepressible storm surge and sewage. Lives were lost. But some throughout the region witnessed firsthand how mother nature also protects: those in parts of Old Saybrook, CT were sheltered by dunes which guarded shoreline homes from pounding surf.

“Once the waters receded and the shock dissipated, we moved forward, acutely aware of the weaknesses in our aging infrastructure and buoyed by the strength of our collective resolve. At Save the Sound, we went back to work, finding new ways to adapt our lives to storms that have increased in frequency and intensity. We remain committed to protecting public health from sewage leaks and overflows, and to making our communities more resilient. We’re now 10 years into the steady work rooted in the hard lessons learned from Sandy, and we have seen much progress in both climate mitigation and adaptation since 2012:

  • New York and Connecticut strengthened public notification of sewage releases;
  • We’ve made critical advancements on offshore wind, solar power, and electric vehicles;
  • We’ve ramped up green infrastructure in Connecticut cities to filter stormwater and alleviate flooding;
  • We helped helped secure over $30 million for Connecticut communities to undertake resilience projects; and
  • We’ve restored coastal marshes that absorb storm surge in places like Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island.

“There is more work to be done, and we’re doing it in communities around Long Island Sound. Save the Sound is fighting to complete the transition to renewable energy and clean transportation. We’re restoring eelgrass meadows on the Sound’s floor to dissipate wave action. We’re leading green infrastructure and marsh restoration projects in Queens. We’re working with Connecticut cities to create stormwater authorities and pass climate emergency resolutions.

“Everything about Superstorm Sandy – its size, its strength, its surge, even its name – still feels overwhelming, even a decade down the road. It was a massive storm, and it presented us with a massive challenge. It is our job to ensure that we are all better prepared – not just to face the next Sandy, whenever it may come, but to protect, restore, and transform the entire Long Island Sound region in ways that enhance our health, our safety, and our quality of life in every community.”

Revisit our 2012 Sandy coverage here:

Save the Sound Pens Op-Ed on Hurricane Sandy for the Hartford Courant – Save the Sound

Post-Sandy Coastal Cleanups – Save the Sound

Shellfishermen Still Feeling Sandy – Save the Sound

Cleaning Up After Sandy – Save the Sound

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