NY’s Fire Island assesses future after Sandy (AP / Sacramento Bee)

November 23, 2012 –  New Yorkers who cherish Fire Island as an idyllic summertime getaway feared the worst when the 32-mile-long barrier island took a direct hit from Superstorm Sandy’s powerful surge. The wall of water swamped nearly the entire island, destroyed or washed away about 200 homes and scraped sand dunes down to nothing. Still, residents are counting their blessings. That’s because more than 4,000 structures survived, at least enough to be repaired. And some are crediting the carefully maintained wall of dunes, ranging from 10 to 20 feet tall, with taking the brunt of the storm’s fury. “The dunes were demolished, but without their protection it would have been much worse,” said Malcolm Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography at Stony Brook University.

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