Hours before Superstorm Sandy rolled in, Manhattan Beach was already under water. (Photo by Max T.)

The Army Corps of Engineers canceled plans to speak before the Manhattan Beach Community Group less than 24 hours before tonight’s meeting, according to the group’s president, who claims that the corps is “embarrassed” by their lack of coastal protection plans.

The Army Corps of Engineers contacted the group yesterday to inform them a representative would not attend, said MBCG President Ira Zalcman, despite weeks of planning that included a dozen or so demands from the agency.

“They gave us a list of things that they wanted, like security, parking, it was 10 to 15 items. We were trying to do them, and reassure them that security would be okay,” Zalcman told Sheepshead Bites. “But they just kept on wanting things, then they wanted to get a different person to speak to us, blah blah blah.”

Zalcman said he’s not entirely sure of what spurred the last-minute dodge, but he’s got a theory.

“I don’t think they have anything to say, to be honest. I don’t think they wanted to be embarrassed,” he said.

“Either they have no plans or they’re afraid of,the grey tigers of Manhattan Beach,” Zalcman wrote on the organization’s website.

The Army Corps of Engineers recently received $20 million to study flood prone areas affected by Sandy and offer solutions for future storms. The study is still in the planning stages, according to a report yesterday.

MBCG was heavily promoting the meeting as a must-attend event for those in Manhattan Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Gerritsen Beach and other coastal communities, as neighbors would have the opportunity to hear the corps’ plans for long-term protection from future storms like Superstorm Sandy, as well as offer input as the people with the the most at stake.

“I wanted them to keep us informed on an ongoing basis. We have a right to know what they’re thinking of, and they have to communicate with us,” Zalcman said. He added that the group has been working on the issue for several years before Superstorm Sandy, as Manhattan Beach has seen flooding – particular from the Bay and not the ocean – several times in the past two decades. “Whatever group, whatever forum, they need to start speaking to us.”

The Army Corps of Engineers did not immediately return a request for comment.

Tonight’s Manhattan Beach Community Group’s (MBCG) meeting will be held at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street.

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  • John Galt

    The only way that this flooding could have been prevented is if a seawall higher than the surge was constructed on at least three sides of the community. Even then surges draining from the adjacent area would have probably flooded the low areas. This is also not cost effective.

    Waterfront and barrier island development is probably one of the worst ideas we have ever come up with. At one time beach front was for industry and recreation and unfortunately lower economic status residents. Even if we accept this as a necessary evil, there is really no excuse for middle to upper economic class or high density low-income development to be developed. The only acceptable option would be if flood barriers were installed with the development and/or elevations are changed to eliminate the issues.

    By allowing these communities to be built in the first place and expending resources to repair them we are subsidizing a lifestyle for a few and a prison for many very much in excess of any property or income tax that is paid by the residents.

    Even if this sounds harsh, have we considered what it could be like if multiple consecutive storms occur every few years. A constant battle of destruction and rebuilding as a monument to human stubbornness and stupidity.

    It is a shame that the era of great New York construction is now over, yes, for better or worse the era of Robert Moses. Why not have a multi-decade plan to condemn, compensate and redesign a safe and durable waterfront with the long-term goal of being storm-proof, not due to over powering nature but respecting our limitations and her lack thereof.

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