The East Rockaway High School is situated along the west bank of the Mill River, just north of Pearl Street, in Nassau County (see Figure 18). Superstorm Sandy caused heavy rains and storm surge resulting in flood waters flooding the School’s northern and eastern property and entering the School’s buildings and facilities. The boiler room, auditorium and gymnasium wings, teacher parking lot, and sports fields received the most pronounced damage. The building’s floor crawl space typically has flooding associated with normal tidal cycles due to porous soil conditions, however the high level of water from Sandy caused scour below the pile caps and left pools of sewage & fuel oil polluted water. Lack of sufficient backwater valves also created water infiltration of the sanitary outfalls.
The School’s buildings and grounds were repaired after Sandy and a recently approved FEMA project is intended to mitigate the flooding of the School’s buildings. The teacher parking lot routinely floods at an approximate 1-year storm event frequency and, along with the sport fields, remains vulnerable to frequent tidal flooding and shoreline erosion. The bleachers and two story storage and press box at the sports field are on the verge of falling into the Mill River due to ongoing shoreline erosion.
The presence of the continuous stretch of publicly owned land along the western bank of the river at the School and to the north and east of the School offers a range of opportunities to implement several RBD LWTB goals – protect and increase the resiliency of a critical community asset from flood damage and create and improve waterfront access for the public. Potential resiliency interventions for protection and social resiliency include linear flood risk mitigation and shoreline stabilization with design considerations to alleviate the tailwater and surge flooding occurring in the teacher parking lot and sports field. Living shoreline elements with stormwater outlet treatment systems to improve water quality in the area and improve connectivity for the public to the waterfront are also being incorporated.
As noted, the School’s sports field bleachers are located at the river bank. Due to ongoing erosion of the bank, the structural stability of these stands is being compromised. The design proposal provides an integrated solution that stabilizes the river bank, raises its flood protection level, and enhances the conditions for the grandstand. The design incorporates the current 100-year FEMA flood map and calls for an elevation of 9 feet.
The goal for this area is to determine the feasibility of design options that help reduce the School’s vulnerability to flooding and stabilize its eroding shoreline. The designed interventions also have the opportunity to facilitate a continuous north-south route along the water for pedestrians and cyclists in the form of the Blue-Green Park, and contribute to improving the quality and operations of the School and its sports fields by enhancing the connection between the School and the river.
FIGURE 18: EAST ROCKAWAY HIGH SCHOOL