NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The federal government is coming to the rescue of businesses and fishermen on Long Island’s East End with an urgently needed project to restore dunes.

Back-to-back nor’easters slammed Dune Road in Southampton, causing the narrow strip of land between the ocean and the bay – with one way in and out – to wash out four times since October.

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“The ocean and the bay had met. That was a reality that we might not have a place to tie our boats up for the future here,” fifth generation fisherman Ed Warner told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

This is not the part of Dune Road that’s famous for mansions and ritzy beach clubs. It’s home to the second largest commercial fishing pier in the state, and a handful of restaurants.

“We couldn’t stay open and close, and open and close, and open without a good road to come down, without a road that was passable, it’s impossible,” Sundays on the Bay owner Stephanie Oakland said.

To fix the breach, Southampton Town and Suffolk County quickly built an emergency berm. Now, a long-term fix by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aims to return the beach to 2005 levels.

Starting this week, a dredge will vacuum 600,000 cubic yards of sand from the ocean and transfer it to a new 15-foot dune and 140-foot beachfront.

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“The size of a football field, including end zones, 280 feet tall,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Thomas Asbery. “So it’s a significant amount of sand.”

The project will cost $10.7 million, which has some asking: Why repeatedly try to save a tiny strip of land that Mother Nature keeps trying to wash away?

“If we lose Dune Road, guess where the waves break – mainland Hampton Bays,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

Officials say it’s an essential investment in the barrier island that protects the Long Island mainland.

“Just think how much of an economic loss would be suffered if these restaurants were gone, if the marinas were wiped away, all the boats were destroyed, and all the jobs were lost,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin, who sponsored the legislation.

The round-the-clock work will take 60 days, and the fix is expected to last for years.

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The sand will come from the Shinnecock Inlet, which itself was in need of dredging for the safety of boats.