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Top Ten 2011: Irene Batters Her Way Up the Coast

Posted on 28 December 2011

web Hurricane Irene 8-28-11_7852 copy

Anticipation was mounting. By late August, Hurricane Irene had ravaged the eastern seaboard and, mere days before she would eventually strike, maps created by the National Hurricane Center predicted her path would travel directly over the village of Sag Harbor.

The village prepared for the worst: stores sold-out of batteries and hand-held radios, gas stations saw “record-breaking” sales, shops and homeowners alike boarded-up and taped shatter-proof designs to their window panes.

Ultimately, the East End dodged a bullet.

Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm and moved west before making landfall near New York City on Sunday. However hundreds of thousands of Long Island residents lost power as a result of the damaging winds and flooding Irene brought with her to New York, and as of Wednesday afternoon 19,488 residents on the East End remained powerless.

Hurricane Irene then traveled into upstate New York and Vermont, leaving in its wake communities devastated by flooding, erosion and 44 people dead.

The National Hurricane Center began issuing advisories about Tropical Storm Irene on Saturday, August 20, the first theories on the path of the storm taking it straight to the East End of Long Island. However, according to data from the National Hurricane Center, after Hurricane Irene made landfall on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a category 2 hurricane, the storm shifted, moving further west than originally anticipated.

It weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall on Sunday, August 28 around 9 a.m. near New York City.

On the East End, downed trees and power lines, and minor flooding were the most severe affects of the storm, leading many local officials to comment on how the region was fortunate when compared to neighboring communities, some who experienced massive flooding and winds reaching over 90 miles per hour.

Across Suffolk County, rainfall averaged between two to six inches, but high winds, which were largely responsible for the downed power lines and trees that led to the massive outages, dominated the region. According to the National Weather Service, Bridgehampton recorded winds of 65 miles per hour. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton clocked wind speeds of 37 miles per hour and Montauk Point registered wind gusts of almost 50 miles per hour.

On Monday, the morning after the storm, as the sound of wood chippers, chainsaws and emergency service vehicles filled the air, the Village of Sag Harbor’s Main Street remained powerless, the Municipal Building running on a generator and Judy Schiavoni passing out spoonfuls of ice cream in front of Schiavoni’s Market – Sag Harbor’s lone grocery store also without power and unwilling to waste its ice cream stores.

In Sag Harbor, Main Street re-opened on Tuesday morning and by Wednesday morning, LIPA appeared to be making real headway, despite residents without power becoming increasingly anxious, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

More than anything, government officials wanted to ensure the lucrative Labor Day weekend was not lost as a result of the storm.

Mayor Gilbride praised the preparedness measures the village took under the leadership of Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, backed up by Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley and his crew, village clerk Beth Kamper and Harbor Master Bob Bori.

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