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Sandy Leaves Financial Problems For TR Sanctuary And Youngs Cemetery

Theodore Roosevelt: the common thread

between the bird sanctuary and his gravesite

Most Long Islanders have great sympathy for people living on the South Shore where Hurricane Sandy came ashore and demolished homes, but the North Shore too was attacked and people are now dealing with the ravages of the storm. Driving along North Shore roads you can see the raw wood where trunks of trees have been split and limbs came crashing down.

The Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center (TRS&AC) in Oyster Bay Cove is dealing with the financial problems of cleanup. Ted Scherff, TRS&AC director said, “I was out chain sawing this week. We lost about 50 trees as a result of Hurricane Sandy. We’ve cleaned out and taken away 10 to 12 of them,” he said on Thursday, Jan. 17.

“Hurricane Sandy had quite an impact on the sanctuary. We are having to re-route some of our trails.” Some have too many trees down and some of them are too big to handle. In another section the storm has broken off the canopy of a tree which is being supported by other trees. “It is snagged real good but we never know when some heavy winds or a storm will bring it down. We’re getting estimates on taking care of that potential site.”

The teaching pond also has a problem. It is located behind the building and was man-created but has become naturalized by wildlife taking over. Now there are cattails, birds and wildlife that use it. “The fresh water teaching pool is important to the sanctuary and wildlife and it is central to our education program. There is a big tree lying in it right now. We started trimming it to get it out. We want to see what kind of damage the pond sustained and to see if we can restore it.”.

Scherff said, “It will take time for the sanctuary to recover. We have tried to contact FEMA but we have not heard from them.”

Scherff was also familiar with what happened at Youngs Cemetery, next door. The sanctuary site was given to the Audubon Society in part to create a buffer for the gravesite of President Theodore Roosevelt, which borders the sanctuary.

The caretaker of the TRS&AC also takes care of Youngs Cemetery. Mr. Scherff said, “Youngs Cemetery, next to us, sustained considerable damage. “A falling tree uprooted the asphalt walkway and others uprooted the ground and though they did not expose any human remains, they did lift some surface material in the area where the black slaves of the families were laid to rest. These are things you can’t ignore but have to take the corrective actions that need to be done.”

Edward Mohlenhoff, Youngs Memorial Cemetery board chair and host of the TRS&AC Taste of Spring event said, “It’s taking a long time for the TRS to do the cleanup. It is because of the time involved in dealing with the insurance and with FEMA and other things that have to come together before the cleanup is complete. Our neighbors are a little impatient with us but it is not an overnight fix. We will do everything we can to take care of is as soon as we can.“

That Youngs Cemetery hillside along Cove Road had many of their downed trees cleared away by this week. All you can see are piles of sawdust where the trees were cut down. The smell of sawed wood fills the air.

Mr. Mohlenhoff said Youngs Cemetery had about 10 trees downed. “We just got them cleaned out this week. I put out an appeal to members of the (private) cemetery asking for some money for the work. The tree removal cost $10,000, and luckily I got some of the money needed. Then we have to replace the road and the waterline which was ripped out. The road will cost about $20,000 to repair so we need $25,000 to $30,000 and the work has to be done. We may have to cash in part of our endowment. The road repair is necessary and we just do not have money in the bank to cover such a high expense.

“We will get no FEMA money and from the insurance — nothing.

“We have insurance for property damage but when it comes to get it we find that the road is not considered ‘property’ it is part of the ‘grounds.’ You pay all this money each year and when something happens, they don’t do a thing. It is awful.”