Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
The Oyster Bay-East Norwich area is recovering from Hurricane Sandy feeling for the most part grateful. Once again neighbors helped neighbors and made everyone appreciate living here even more. Trees suffered the most in the devastating winds of Sandy. Power outages all over Nassau County kept people challenged in how they would cope with the lack of electricity. For those with gas service, there was warmth and good food. Communicating was a problem for a community that is used to being well-connected.
The Oyster Bay Public Library filled that need for some residents. Head of Reference Stacy Evers said they opened on Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Library regular Stan Spiegelman was out spreading the word that they were open. “He’s a regular and comes in for books,” said Ms. Evers. She said, “They were coming in, in droves on Saturday for eight hours straight using the Internet to see what was going on in the world. We were really happy to provide warmth and Internet connections. The day before the storm it was nonstop with people coming in for books because they were expecting the power outage. We almost sold out of new books — even though they are free. They were in high demand: good old paper books.”
Jill Mason at the Life Enrichment Center of Oyster Bay said they were open Thursday and Friday, Nov. 1 and 2. “On Thursday there were 13 people for lunch and on Monday, there were over 50. People have come here to take showers. Nancy Farinaccio and Mary Frignani [LEC staffers] were knocking on doors telling people we had lights, and heat and the kitchen was open. We had no phones or Internet service until Monday, but we’re back.”
Sharon Sliva, Boys & Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich development coordinator said they got their power back on Thursday, Nov. 1 but there was no Internet service until Monday, Nov. 5.
Ms. Sliva said for herself, getting to Oyster Bay was difficult. “I couldn’t get down Berry Hill Road. There were huge trees down. It’s a shame, there were huge trees, hundreds of years old all over the place, down. The wind hit them just right and they fell. There were trees on top of cars in driveways on Berry Hill Road. On Woodland Road, the road sign was blown across the street in the woods. The wind just pulled everything up. It was a war zone.”
Ms. Sliva said, “We were open Monday, Oct. 29, before the storm hit but left in the nick of time. There was no power at the clubhouse on Tuesday and Wednesday but the staff were here Thursday and Friday all day. There were no kids at all because there was no school therefore there was no Before School or After School program.”
Lori Wood, program director, explained they are closed when the schools are closed. “However, on Tuesday, Election Day, we had a full day program. We hold programs over school holidays — not because of inclement weather. Our fashion show on Friday, Nov. 9 will be rescheduled.”
Ms. Sliva said she heard from a friend on Centre Island and said, “Centre Island is all under water still. There are no lights, no heat and no power.”
The National Park Service Incident Management Team (NPS IMT) completed the move on Sunday, Nov. 4 of its Command Center Operation from Hagerstown, Maryland to the New York Harbor area. In addition to the core team there are specialized support crews in the field supporting employee emergency needs, conducting damage assessments and removing debris in the affected areas.
A meteorologist has been requested for the team and will provide projections for the nor’easter forecast for Wednesday and branches are developing inclement weather contingency plans as well.
As we went to press, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, in NYC, where the Theodore Roosevelt Association is currently located has no assessed damage, but remains closed due to no power. At Sagamore Hill National Historic Site teams were onsite for damage assessment Monday, including beach areas and overwashes.
Barbara Rakusin, LCSW, ACSW, Youth and Family Counseling Agency of Oyster Bay-East Norwich (YFCA) executive director said, “YFCA is now fully up and running. Our telephone and Internet were restored this morning, Monday, Nov. 5.
“Please feel free to stop by to charge your phones, get warm and have access to the Internet. If you know of persons in need of food please remember that we have a small pantry stocked with nonperishable food. For any other immediate needs, we will try to assist in any way possible.” They are located at 193A South Street, Oyster Bay and can be reached by phone at 922-6867.
Ms. Rakusin said the electricity came on Wednesday, Oct. 31, but there was no phone or Internet. “We started seeing clients on Wednesday afternoon. Those who could get to our programs, we were able to help. We gave out food to those in need from our pantry even though it is small. The North Shore Community Church had more people than usual at their Saturday food give-away program.
“It is important that people who get food stamps know they will be helped by the government. Those living in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy will be getting 50 percent more to replace what is lost. We have been able to meet their needs and if we can’t, we will figure out how to get those needs met,” she said.
During Hurricane Irene the loss of food for lack of refrigeration caused a great problem for those living paycheck to paycheck.
FYI: YFCA, Inc. is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit, multi service agency that provides a wide range of mental health and social welfare services designed to strengthen the lives of individuals and families of the hamlet of Oyster Bay and its surrounding communities.
The commercial areas along South Street and Audrey Avenue got their power on Wednesday and Thursday. They were the first opened by LIPA making sure the most people benefited from the electricity. Wild honey got power on Wednesday morning as did Canterbury Ales, Jack Halyards and Stop & Shop. The local eateries were havens in the middle of the recovery. Sitting at home in cold houses made the restaurants even more inviting. In East Norwich La Pizzetta and Rothman’s Steak House were serving customers.
Think Long Island First store reopened on Thursday, Nov. 1. They sent out emails before noon saying, “Power is restored on Audrey Avenue in Oyster Bay as of this morning, the store is open. We are pleased to report there were no damages.
“Due to the storm, the submission period to the Long Island Limerick Competition is extended until Nov. 15. The Award Ceremony is moved to Saturday, Nov. 24, at 4 p.m. It will coincide with the Holiday Poetry Reading at Small Business Saturday,” said Ewa Rumprecht, co-owner.
Tina Katopis Mazzarella of Sweet Tomato of Oyster Bay said, they too opened on Thursday. Unfortunately, she said, “We have Optimun and it hasn’t worked... so I couldn’t send anyone an email.”
Tina added, “We hope you are all safe, I know so many of you lost so much. We drove around and saw the devastation. We hope you are on the road to recovering from this. Both stores were closed [the other one is in Glen Cove] ...we threw away everything, the Nassau County Board of Health came and examined and we opened again. Oyster Bay was very blessed to open Thursday. Glen Cove will open Monday afternoon.”1`
“Well, we survived Sandy... but now we have to survive the gas lines and the new storm coming... so load up.”
Walter Imperatore, of Renaissance Property Associates, LLC and chairman of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce marketing committee sent out emails giving people a Hess link. “It gives you fuel volumes at each of their gas stations. It is updated periodically (I saw it at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.). Look for volumes in green. Red (below 2000 gallons) means they can’t pump much lower and are considered empty.” The link is hessexpress.com and look for fuel information.
This reporter was on line for three and a half hours on Saturday to get gas at the Exxon Station on Route 25A. After waiting for two hours, a police officer drove along the line informing people the pumps were closing for 45 minutes. The generators were over-heating. An hour later the line moved again. The staff at the service station were great. They had people directing where you should go. It was dark by that time. Filling up gave a great feeling of confidence and security.
Christine Thomaides, Grenville Baker Boys & Girls Club of Locust Valley director of special events said they were up and running on Monday. “The schools are closed until Wednesday. Piping Rock Road is terrible and Brookville is still down.
“Bayville is underwater from the Presidents’ Streets to the end of Bayville. It is devastated. One of our folks lives there and just got power today (Nov. 5). The flooding and damage is tremendous. People are dropping off blankets and canned goods here that we will try to get to Bayville.”
Shore Road is down so there was only one way into the village, Bayville Road.
A Centre Island resident characterized life in Centre Island and Bayville as having “no lights, no phone, no motor car, not a single luxury. ‘Like Robinson Caruso, as primitive as can be…’ [you may remember as the theme song for Gilligan’s Island].”
He said, “The teachers in the Locust Valley School District Sunday, wanted to do something to help their students in Bayville and hosted a free barbacue at the Bayville firehouse.
“The causeway between Bayville and Centre Island is fine. The underground walkway between the Sound and the bay at Centre Island beach is filled with sand. That happened in the 1992 nor’easter too. The low tide was lower than the normal low tide. Although we lost power on Monday, Ralph’s Piazza stayed open working off a generator.
“The Locust Valley shelter (run by the Red Cross at LVHS) called and asked for two pies. They sent 20 pies, free, and did that twice. They were working their gas ovens, even when Jerry had no power.
“This storm was not as bad as the nor’easter of 1992. Then the biggest flooded section was east of the Bayville Bridge, along West Harbor Drive. After that storm they put in flapper valves that let water go in and get out. People are pumping out their basements although some are still without power.”
Trucks were on West Shore Road on Saturday, near the railroad trestle. On Sunday a Nassau County bucket loader was pushing dirt around and put in a pole with a transformer and one light, after noon, at Cleft Road. On Monday there were about eight trucks working there. Three or four sections of the road had been undermined and several telephone poles were broken.
On Sunday evening Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano had a conference call with all the mayors on the status of fuel supplies. He said first responders had first call on them.
Outside the Centre Island police station there was a truck from Albany sent to provide emergency generator power to the station and to provide a nonemergency phone number for them.
IGA on Bayville Road had generators and were up all during the storm. “It was a port of normalcy,” said the Centre Island resident. “Seawanhaka Yacht Club was givine free food to whoever came by. There were FEMA trucks parked at Stehlie beach and people were told they would have water and dry ice but they didn’t, instead they were giving out Meals-Ready-to-Eat. IGA was selling water for 99 cents a bottle.”
The resident said, “The Bayville bridge has emergency power but the storm water came up too fast and the motors were under water. The bridge used to have a hand crank that could be used in emergencies but it was broken. The Frank M. Flower & Sons, Inc. boats are stuck in the hatchery as a result.” They can’t get out to harvest shellfish.
Crews came from all over the United States to help LIPA get Long Island up and working. On Wednesday crews from the south, wearing “Gator” T-shirts were working along Route 106 in Muttontown.
In Centre Island, LIPA crews from Seattle were checking the power lines. They were given electrical maps of the area but there were no roads on the maps, said a reliable source.
The crew said they put the trucks on a military cargo plane and landed at JFK.
Oregon was sending crews from the Bonneville Dam to work on substations in the tri-state area — so even states as far away as Oregon are helping. Even Canada sent help: their trucks sported small Canadian flags.