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Mar 16, 2010 5:52 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Winds sweep through South Fork, causing scattered damage

Mar 16, 2010 5:52 PM

A storm with winds of up to 55 mph and torrential rain hit the East End on Saturday, knocking down trees and power lines and ravaging beaches across the East End.

There were no injuries directly connected to the nor’easter, according to local police departments.

East Hampton Town Police Chief Todd Sarris said his department received numerous calls about flooding and downed wires as well as a report of a tree that fell on a house on Morris Park Lane in East Hampton, forcing the residents to evacuate. But in comparison to parts of western Long Island, East Hampton dodged major damage, Chief Sarris said.

Southampton Town Police received more than 300 storm-related calls of blown-over trees and power lines between Saturday morning and Sunday morning, according to Sgt. Boden. “It was a disaster,” he said, “a complete mess.”

Beaches also took a beating from the storm that dumped between 2 and 2.5 inches of rain in Southampton and East Hampton towns, according to the National Weather Service.

Dunes were washed away in Hampton Bays and East Quogue, according to Aram Terchunian, a coastal geologist at First Coastal Corporation in Westhampton Beach and there was some erosion in Quogue, but “it doesn’t look too severe,” he added. But Wainscott and Sagaponack “got creamed,” Mr. Terchunian said.

Even so, an oceanfront home in Wainscott owned by Ronald Lauder, which was protected by giant sandbags known as geotubes, survived the storm. “If it weren’t for those bags, the house would have been gone,” said town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny on Tuesday.

Along Surfside Drive in Bridgehampton though, dunes that had already been scoured out from beneath several houses there were eroded several more feet, leaving oceanfront homes propped over the sand and waves crashing below them. On Monday bulldozers, were already pushing tons of new sand over the precipice in hopes of shoring up the foundations.

Employees at First Coastal were not able to assess the full extent of the damage Monday since the storm had not yet fully subsided. Waves, which were breaching 20 feet over the weekend, were still 10 to 12 feet high and tides were still elevated, Mr. Terchunian said Monday.

“It’s still going on,” he said. “This storm is not done.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he spend all day on Sunday observing erosion hot spots in town. He noticed that both the ocean facing south shore and the north side of Montauk took a beating. A section of West Lake Drive in Montauk was flooded during the storm, and several side streets nearby were impassible.

On Monday, Mr. Wilkinson said West Lake Drive was in much better condition, but other side streets in the area were still flooded.

“It’s been just a very destructive winter,” he said.

In some isolated bright spots, officials said, erosion control measures paid dividends during the storm. Southampton Town Trustee Jon Semlear said that in parts of Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, snow fencing that had been placed in the dunes to capture sand, appeared to have been buried under newly deposited sand at the foot of dunes.

“There’s a couple other spots where even looks like the beach grew a little,” Mr. Semlear said. He added, however, that the beaches throughout eastern Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack are very narrow. Mountains of sand the Trustees had stockpiled from the excavation of the sand delta inside Mecox Bay for dune reconstruction in front of the Scott Cameron Beach parking lot were washed away though.

There were also power outages across the East End over the weekend, according to the Long Island Power Authority website. Just over 2,700 people in Southampton Town were without power Sunday morning. Most of the outages were reported in Hampton Bays, East Quogue, Westhampton, Southampton and Noyac. In East Hampton, only 437 LIPA customers lost power. The majority of those outages were reported in Amagansett and Wainscott.

Most power was restored Tuesday morning. According to the LIPA website, 146 people in Southampton and 13 in East Hampton were still without power on Tuesday.

LIPA employees worked hard to restore power to the estimated 100,000 people across Long Island, said Kevin Law, president and CEO of LIPA, at a Sunday afternoon press conference at the company’s headquarters in Hicksville. Approximately 235,000 Long Islanders lost power, and LIPA was able to restore power to 135,000 on Sunday. LIPA services about 1.1 million people on Long Island.

The company has tapped employees from National Grid as far as upstate New York and Michigan to help restore power to Long Islanders. Mr. Law warned that it could take a few days to bring power back to everyone, and he asked customers to be patient.

“I can’t sit here and just push a button and get people’s lights back on,” he said.

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In my neck of the woods. the electrical wires are covered by overgrown tree limbs. It's a no brainer that we have power outages. Lilco charges a fortune for their monopoly on electricity and yet do little in the way of preventive maintenance. Yea, I've called them. My concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Tell your state Reps to vote No on any electric rate increases. What else can you do?
By Johnny Nova (83), Northampton on Mar 15, 10 6:55 AM
“If we were in a hurricane season, this would have been a hurricane,” he said.

Mr. Law this is an erroneous and ignorant statement, I would like to know where you earned your degree in Meteorology? Oh, no degree, that's abundantly clear!

By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Mar 15, 10 2:40 PM
I've lived in southampton for 15 years, this was by far the worst in terms of flooding. Couldn't leave the house yesterday.
By EEG (19), Southampton on Mar 15, 10 7:07 PM
We should all be thankful that the moon was at apogee. That helped to damper the effect some what.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Mar 15, 10 8:14 PM
Well actually the Moon was almost New which is just as bad as Full as far as tides are concerned.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Mar 15, 10 10:57 PM