LONG BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A unique new program will keep the gas on when the next big storm knocks out service on Long Island.

It’s going to help the gas company pinpoint flood waters, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.

In the seven years since Superstorm Sandy, Long Beach has become stronger. It has a rebuilt boardwalk and shored up beaches and jetties. But what you may not see are the utility improvements designed to keep the city running in the event of the next big storm.

“During Sandy, they had a system-wide loss of gas,” Long Beach Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Joseph Febrizio said.

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The city has partnered with National Grid on a first-in-the-U.S. pilot program to install flood sensors and shut-off valves at every gas customer’s home. If submerged for more than 10 seconds, the sensor will send a signal to wireless routers soon-to-be attached attached to light poles throughout Long Beach. The gas can then be shut off to a flooded house or block — not the whole city.

“They can actually isolate potential areas where there is a loss of service,” Febrizio said. “As opposed to having these system-wide outages of gas.”

(Photo: National Grid)

The current system requires homeowners call in and say they’re flooded.

Restarting the system requires door-to-door pilot light checks. Long Beach residents remember well the loss of gas, power and water during the weeks and months after Sandy.

“That’s Mother Nature, you know? Nobody wants to relive that,” one resident said.

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Storm hardening is coming to City Hall, too. Generators are being moved to the roof. The water purification plant has new elevated equipment and flood planks, and old cast iron gas mains are being replaced with plastic to keep out water.

“This is like a great improvement to the city. People here are really happy about what’s happening,” real estate agent Michele Sherry-Mosca said.

National Grid’s goal is to outfit all 130,000 customers in flood zones on Long Island and in New York City with the shut-off values and sensors.

The sensors will be rolled out beginning in October and take 10 years to fully implement, with incremental improvements each year, Gusoff reported.

National Grid said the program will also increase safety by protecting the gas network and help to more efficiently restore power.

“We’re very excited about bringing this unique project to the city of Long Beach and other communities in FEMA-designated flood zones in our service areas on Long Island and in New York City,” National Grid said in a statement. “This program will increase customer and public safety by protecting the gas network in these communities through the installation of automatic service shut-off valves and flood sensors that will send a signal to a pole mounted network router that lets our control center know when the service is turned off. This prevents gas from entering the customer’s home or business at an increased pressure. This not only increases overall safety, but it helps protect our infrastructure and allows us to more efficiently restore service to customers.”

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