Residents of the East End began bunkering down over the weekend, crossing their fingers for a mild brush with Hurricane Sandy, and while some experienced only light damage to their properties, others experienced heavy flooding and downed trees.
“No dress for you, Sandy,” said a sign in one Montauk shop window, Kelly B’s. Another shop owner had recycled last year’s Irene plywood without updating the message in honor of that storm. On Saturday, people were out taking photos both at the ocean beaches and on Block Island Sound, where the wind blew salt and sand into their faces, cameras and hair. They could barely stand without blowing over on the north beaches in Montauk.
Michelle Rothar, an East Hampton Town social worker at the American Red Cross shelter at East Hampton High School, said she’d started to go through a puddle as she was leaving Lazy Point—in her husband’s truck, wisely—and opened the door to see how high it was before proceeding. It was just up to the door, she said. She backed out.
When Ms. Rothar had first arrived at the shelter on Monday morning, she said the next day that a gust was so strong that she and another person had to hold each other up as they walked from the parking lot to the school.
A passenger on one of the last “trains” out of Montauk on Sunday, actually a North Fork Express school bus, said that people boarding were confused and concerned about whether the bus would make their connection in Speonk in time for the last train out of that stop before service was suspended totally at 7 p.m.
By 3 p.m. on Monday, streets were mostly deserted, and trees were beginning to lose their branches or fall over entirely due to extreme wind, but some braved the whipping gales to get a firsthand account of the “Frankenstorm” that had been threatening the Eastern Seaboard for nearly a week.
Kim Brennon of Bridgehampton visited Halsey Neck Lane Beach in Southampton Village as winds were reaching their peak. “We went shopping and bought batteries and supplies—now we’re hanging out at the beach,” she said as she was getting into her car.
Others made a quick trip up through the dunes to get a peek at the ferocious waves, but quickly ran back to their vehicles, clearly having had enough.
In Sag Harbor, bay waters washed over Long Wharf during Hurricane Sandy and turned Bay Street into a veritable bay, with “whitecaps” whipping across the surface and lapping at the front of the American Legion building on the opposite side of the street.
Long Island Avenue was still heavily flooded on Tuesday afternoon, as motorists, many with cameras and camera-phones snapping away, circled by, documenting and gaping at the high water levels. One person could be seen in the distance kayaking down adjacent Bridge Street, also under water.
“I’m just happy nobody got hurt,” commented one bystander, Deborah Craven, who lives near Sag Harbor, as she stood parked by the flooded street. She came to see it for herself after friends told her of the flooding, she explained. She fared all right in the storm, but not without a Halloween-like fright: “It was scary when you were inside.”
“This is the worst I’ve seen since the 1950s,” remarked longtime Sag Harbor resident A.J. Labrozzi, while gesturing toward the flooded streets.
“I feel sorry for the people whose houses flooded,” added David Cosgrove, a fellow resident. “They can’t flush their toilets.”
Meanwhile, a 30-foot sloop had sunk in the harbor off the marine park, oozing diesel fuel into the water and forming a purplish-green slick on the surface.
U.S. Coast Guard Commander Paul Gerecke, who is stationed in Virginia but lives in Sag Harbor and had returned for a funeral, explained that the sailboat ended up far down the harbor from where it had actually been moored. He noted that with the low elevation of Sag Harbor, it doesn’t take much to flood its low-lying sections.
The Corner Bar was packed with patrons Tuesday afternoon, a day after the brunt of Sandy’s fury. A generator outside powered the place, and flood water appeared to be being pumped out, Commander Gerecke pointed out.
Sag Harbor resident Pam Kern made a trip to Southampton Village to survey the damage there as well. “I worked through it, pumping gas in Sag Harbor, but today I have the day off,” she said, about working at the Harbor Heights gas station on Route 114. “I pumped an astronomical amount of gas on Sunday and Monday.”
Ms. Kern said she had just visited her old house on Garden Street in Sag Harbor before venturing to Southampton. “Behind the town was worse than Bay Street,” she said of flooding in Sag Harbor. “The hype was worse than the storm, as usual, though.”