Written by Katie Piacentini and Linda Portney Goldstein Friday, 02 September 2011 00:00
Area residents felt the effects of Hurricane Irene over the past weekend, which made landfall in New York as a Tropical Storm around 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28. According to local weather reports, sustained winds were around 50 mph with gusts up to 75 mph, which knocked down many trees and power lines throughout Port Washington. In addition, Manhasset Bay had a storm surge that flooded low-lying parts of the area, including Sunset Park and Shore Road. While damage from flooding and downed trees appears to be extensive in several areas, it has been reported through local police that no one in Port was seriously injured.
Preparations for the storm had been intense throughout the peninsula. Port Washington North Mayor Robert Weitzner said that storm drains in the village of Port Washington North had been cleaned and inspected before the storm so that run off would be unobstructed. NorthShoreAlert provided updates to residents who were signed up for this service, which helped to answer important questions such as the location of shelters and contact numbers to report outages. (To sign-up for NorthShoreAlert, visit the website at www.northshorealert.org).
The National Weather Service had warned that the storm surge from Manhasset Bay would be four to eight feet above normal due to the storm making landfall at high tide and tides being higher than usual from a “new moon tide.” On Friday evening, Aug. 26, Nassau County ordered the mandatory evacuation of all low-lying coastal areas on the North Shore due to concerns about the storm surge. It was explained that “low-lying areas” meant all residences that were at 10 feet above sea level or less, or areas that have had coastal surges in the past. Residents were told to evacuate these areas by Saturday at 5 p.m., which included parts of Manorhaven, Sands Point, Baxter Estates, and Port Washington North.
More than 290 people were housed in a shelter at Schreiber High School run by the Red Cross. Others who had to evacuate were taken in by friends and family living in other parts of town.
Local police provided an update through NorthShoreAlert on Sunday at noon after the worst of Irene had passed, stating that the peninsula had suffered expected damage related to a typical heavy storm. At that point, they said that two-thirds of the peninsula (over 10,000 homes) had lost power. Police also said in this message that it may not be known until after the storm has passed when restoration will occur, and that outages should be reported to LIPA at 1-800-490-0025. The second part of this police message related to numerous road blockages from trees and flooding. Police said that Public Safety was already working to clear as many of the blockages as they can, and people should be beware that downed trees are often entangled with live power lines. The police also warned that people should stay indoors until after the storm passed, since trees were still falling and conditions were hazardous.
The storm surge created a flood along parts of Manhasset Bay. Shore Road and Sunset Park were underwater on Sunday, but much of the water receded by Monday morning.
In Manorhaven, several large trees went down. One on Graywood Road took a transformer with it causing power outages throughout the village. In Port Washington North, about six trees were lost. There was extensive damage to power lines on Pepperday Avenue, as a large tree fell down, taking out power lines with it, which resulted in a car catching fire. The Port Washington Fire Department responded to the scene and put out the car fire. Trees also fell down in Sands Point, including one on Middle Neck Road that blocked the street.
As of Monday morning, many residents were still without power. LIPA worked diligently to restore power in the affected areas. Surprisingly the power outages were not as widespread as they were expected to be and the flooding was largely limited to Shore Road, parts of Middle Neck Road and Baxter Estates.
Although the Port Washington Peninsula experienced widespread power outages and flooding in some areas, it was not as bad as it could have been. As Hurricane Irene veered further west than originally anticipated, the force of the storm on the North Shore was not as intense as originally predicted.
Mayor Weitzner pointed out the good news in a press release on Sunday. He noted that the Village of Port Washington North had successfully met the challenge of working with Port Washington, the Town of North Hempstead and the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management to ensure public safety.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano issued the following statement on Sunday afternoon: “The worst of the storm has passed. I want to thank our residents for their cooperation and thank all those that participated in our emergency management plan. Fortunately, we have no reports of storm-related deaths or serious injuries in the County at this time. Unfortunately, we have much to assess and clean-up; including significant flooding of up to four feet occurred in storm surge zones throughout Nassau County. This presents a call for caution. Many traffic signals are out of order, there are down power lines, flooded roadways and many downed trees. LIPA reports that over 120,000 residents in Nassau County experienced power outages. Residents should assume that downed power lines are live, assume large standing trees are a hazard as the ground is saturated.
“Accordingly, I have directed the implementation of our Debris Management and Restoration Plan. Under the direction of DPW, and in coordination with our towns, villages and utility companies, thousands of workers are cleaning up and restoring local neighborhoods. This includes removing debris and trees from roadways, cleaning storm basins and pumping out flooded streets and highway. I’d like to take a moment to thank Governor Cuomo for his assistance with the National Guard and for sending Andrew Feeney, Director of the State Emergency Management Office, to Nassau County to assist with clean-up efforts.”