Lost bluff presents challenge to homeowners

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Joseph Bunicci and dog Barney on their deck overlooking the Long Island Sound bluff.

Hurricane Sandy left some homes in Wading River teetering on the edge of the Long Island Sound bluffs.

Joseph and Mary Bunicci of Lewin Drive in Wading River said they rode out the storm in their home overlooking Long Island Sound, which lost about 20 feet of bluff during Super Storm Sandy, as officials are now calling it.

“We tried to get out, but there were trees blocking the road,” Ms. Bunicci said. She said the home was shaking during the storm, and after it was over, there was a lot less bluff.

“The whole bluff basically goes halfway under our deck,” she said. “There’s a rope across a third of the deck. You can’t go past that, because it’s very dangerous.”

Ms. Bunicci said her home and her neighbors on either side of her didn’t sustain any structural damage, other than some lost shingles.

But she added, “If the storm didn’t stop when it did, the whole thing would have gone over.”

The Buniccis, their two neighbors on either side of them, and the Lewin Hills Association have hired Craig Larsen of Larsen Excavating & Bulkheading to try and come up with a solution to the problem.

Mr. Larsen said an application has been filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build what’s called a “rock armor wall” at the base of the bluff to prevent further erosion.

The application is awaiting a decision from the DEC, he said.

The proposed wall would be about 60 feet long and 10 feet high and would have one to three tons of stones. Ms. Bunicci said a nearby property along the bluff by Crescent Court already had this type of structure built.

“And it looks beautiful,” she said.

Ms. Bunicci said the all three houses are solid, but the storm damage from Sandy may have complicated the issue.

“Now we have twice as much work to do,” she said.

In addition to erosion of the bluff, there also is less beach down below it, she said.

The Buniccis bought their home in 2004 and applied for bulkheading to protect it in 2006, but that application was denied. She hopes the rock armor wall will be approved and the bluff can be built back up.

She says this type of storm is probably happens once in a 100 years.

“I think the worst is over,” she said. “One thing to be grateful for is that nobody died, and our pets are safe.”

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