23 Aug 2014
66° Mostly Cloudy

Town Begins Clean Up, Assessing Damage from Sandy

Erosion on ocean and bay beaches, flooding and downed wires keeping everyone busy on Tuesday.

In the Town of East Hampton, the sun is shining and the sounds of chainsaws and generators are plentiful on Tuesday morning, as Sandy moves away from Long Island.

Town and village highway department workers are hard at work removing downed trees and clearing roads, but the most difficult tasks include repairing roads that have been washed out and handling erosion. In Montauk, a few beachfront hotels had their foundations exposed due to severe erosion.

Billionaire Ron Lauder's cottage on the ocean beach in Wainscott was reportedly destroyed. The ocean washed over the dune into Wainscott Pond and there were even fish up on Main Street, across from the Wainscott School, according to Hilary Osborn Malecki. She said there is a foot of debris all around the garage, where the surge came through.

The town is using all resources — from traffic control officers to the town fire marshal — to keep people off the beaches and dunes, as the ocean continues to roar. In the meantime, power outages have grown to 21,065 in the Town of East Hampton as of 3:20 p.m.

Phones were down at Town Hall, and meetings cancelled. School has already been cancelled for Wednesday. And, while Village Hall is closed, public works department employees busy chopping up trees that fell in the roadway, like near St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

At Gurney's Inn, the Beach Barge, a snack shack on the ocean in front of the hotel, was destroyed. Paul Monte, the CEO and general manager, said the small building was about 30 years old. "This is the first time it's taking a beating like this," he said.

Debris, tree trunks, even a metal barrel were strewn along the beach in front of Gurney's. The water level reached the foundation of the oceanfront cottages, he said.

Stephen Lynch, the town highway superintendent, said the most affected areas included Gerard Drive in Springs — where the asphalt on the road completely washed away — and the northside of Montauk, where waves washed over West Lake Drive, damaged Gosman's parking lot, and several houses along Soundview Drive.

Lynch's crew worked until 10 p.m. on Monday, mainly bringing in emergency sand along a portion of Napeague Stretch, where water breached the dunes and flooded a portion of Montauk Highway around high tide. Lynch said within an hour-and-a-half, they brought in a bulldozer and a pay loader and 5 dump truck, with the help of Pat Bistrian Jr., for the emergency move that Lynch believes saved the road. The water began to recede, and by 11 p.m., he said it was practically dry.

"I think I was in the sixth grade the last time that happened," Lynch said of the water breaching the dunes and covering the Napeague Stretch.

His department workers were back on the job on Tuesday at 7 a.m., Lynch said.

So far on Tuesday, they were beginning to clean out the broken up asphalt on Gerard Drive. "There's no more asphalt, it's gone," he said. They have to take out the damage road, put down a new base and then hire a paving contractor to put down new roadway, he said, adding that he was not sure of damages to houses because they were still waiting for some water to recede completely and did not survey the entire road.

Residents, who braved the storm and did not evacuate after recommendations to do so, were evacuated on Tuesday morning, he added.

The Star Island Road causeway in Montauk was also washed out. A contractor was down there working to repair the road and it should be back open by Tuesday night, Lynch said.

On the sound, where the water was above the jetty, West Lake Drive and Gosman's parking lot were washed out. Crews were down there on Tuesday morning bringing in sand to shore up the road, which was closed from the intersection of Soundview Drive and at the Docks.

The storm eroded away sand in front of the homes along Soundview Drive, damaging some, including the Sun-n-Sound motel.

The Long Island Power Authority pulled its workers from the field at about noon on Monday due to hazardous conditions. "We could only remove the trees that didn't have wires in them," Lynch said. On Tuesday, LIPA crews are back in the field, working with town and village highway employees to remove wires that are entangled in trees.

"We're hoping by tonight that all the roads will be cleared," Lynch said. Workers will begin removing brush on Wednesday, which Lynch thinks will take about 4 to 5 days.

Wainscott and Springs had the most trees come down, Lynch said.

He asked that people stay off the roads as much as possible. "Hang tight for a little bit," he said. "The faster was can get this all cleared up, the better for everybody."

Lynch said his workers have done "an exceptional job" during the storm. "With the EOC and everyone working together — Bill Wilkinson has been great to work with — things went smoothly."

The East Hampton Recycling Center and Montauk Transfer Station are open Tuesday and will be open on Wednesday. Brush fees are waved through Nov. 4.

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