Dune Road Breakthroughs Continue to Be a Problem

Waters rise to the Dune Road berm on Saturday, December 14, 2019
The Dune Road berm on Saturday, Photo: Jay Schneiderman

Attending a fundraiser for the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center at Topping Rose on Saturday night, I saw Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, sitting at another table, working at his cellphone as others ate the delicious dinner prepared by Jean-George.

Curious, I walked over.

“What are you lookin’ at,” I asked. I made a joke. Nothing X-rated should be looked at during a fundraiser, I whispered to him.

“The ocean has broken through a few hundred yards west of the Shinnecock Canal again,” he told me. “It’s washing across Dune Road and into the bay. I’m alerting the Highway Department. Already texted the police and the harbormaster. I’m going to have to go over there.”

If Dune Road were gone, access to the three restaurants, stores, fish houses, docks, boats and warehouses by car would be impossible.

I have a tide chart on my phone. “I think its high tide right now,” I said. I showed it to him. High tide was just minutes away.

We both knew a breach a month ago was healed by the stockpile of sand, about a quarter million dollars worth, they kept nearby. But the sea had ripped it out in days. Now there was none left. And spending a quarter million dollars for a few days could not continue.

“I better go,” he said. And he got up and quickly did. It would be a 30-minute drive to the canal by car. If the road was open.

An hour and a half later, I received the following text from him:

“I left the party and headed over to Dune Road. It’s a bit messy. The dune has washed away in front of the commercial dock again. I’ll be back at high tide in the morning at 10 a.m.”

He sent me another text in the morning at 11:32 a.m.

“More problems along Dune Road last night. The dune washed out by the commercial dock during last night’s high tide at approximately 10 p.m. A 30-foot-wide section opened completely (with the water rushing through). Early this morning the highway department pushed the sand from the road back in line with the dune, creating a small berm sufficient to weather this morning’s high tide. Apparently, a harbor seal had crossed through the opening last night and was trapped at the commercial dock when the berm was built according to Harbormaster Chris Fraser. Marine mammal rescue came and got the seal. The area at the east end of Dune Road remains extremely vulnerable and we are watching the weather and tides very closely. The town lacks the resources to prevent a breach in this area and we are calling for assistance from county, state and federal agencies. At this moment, the road is open…I will monitor the situation closely. Some pictures to follow.”

Harbor seal rescued on Dune Road
Harbor seal rescued on Dune Road, Photo: Jay Schneiderman

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