East Haven’s Victoria Beach Rebuilds After Sandy; Braces for Nor’easters; Sets Precedent for Connecticut Shoreline

January 24, 2013

East Haven, CT – In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in August of 2011, the residents of the Victoria Beach Condo Association in East Haven, CT asked the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for permission to rebuild their worn and damaged berm that had protected their properties from Nor’easters and other major weather events for decades. Regrettably, the berm had not yet been rebuilt by October 2012 when Super Storm Sandy caused record storm surge, beach erosion and flooding across East Haven’s shoreline.

“After Irene, we knew we needed to fortify our berm before another major storm. At the time, we feared a major Nor’easter would hit our vulnerable shoreline and threaten not just our beachfront, but the structures of our homes as well,” said Joe Perrelli, president of the Victoria Beach Condo Association. “We petitioned DEEP, but couldn’t get our permits approved before Storm Sandy swept ashore. We were frustrated. We felt victim to mother nature and bureaucracy.”

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Following Super Storm Sandy, the condo association resubmitted their application and this time enlisted the support of East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo, State Senator Len Fasano and State Representative James Albis.

“This community needed help; and immediately. Many of the processes and timeframes for permit approval that were acceptable before Irene and Sandy, simply aren’t acceptable anymore. It’s a new world and I do believe we need to anticipate more frequent major weather events in the years ahead,” said Senator Fasano, who represents East Haven and is a member of Connecticut’s Shoreline Preservation Task Force.

Senator Fasano, Representative Albis and Mayor Maturo aggressively pursued approval of the Association’s application, warning that another storm would be even more devastating to the community. This time, DEEP approved the delegation’s request and the project is in motion.

“I’m pleased we were able to help secure approval of the application and that construction of a new, stronger protective berm will soon be underway,” said state Representative James Albis who also represents East Haven and chairs the Shoreline Preservation Task Force charged with reviewing sea level rise data; identifying solutions that will protect families, keep businesses open, and give municipalities the tools they need to address these issues.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo said he also hopes the project moves expeditiously. He said, “Our shoreline is still vulnerable and our protections have been weakened from Irene and Sandy. Even a smaller storm that shows up before this berm is built could cause significant damage. That said, I’m proud of the people of Victoria Beach and all of East Haven for their resilience as we all work together to rebuild our community and help our neighbors.”

Senator Fasano agreed. “It has been a long process, but I think DEEP and other state officials have learned from it and I hope our efforts here can serve as a model for other shoreline communities in Connecticut.”