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Local Stories On Irene

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By Claire Walla

By midday last Saturday, August 27, Main Street in Sag Harbor looked almost abandoned.  Though a smattering of shoppers and diners continued to mill about, many storefronts were boarded up with plywood (a first for most), or else covered with adhesive tape.

All were preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

In the height of her projected force here on the East End, at one point Irene was expected to cut a path straight through Sag Harbor, bringing winds that topped 100 miles per hour and rains that would fetch up to 10 inches of water.  While the tropical storm didn’t quite bring the devastation many in here Sag Harbor expected, her presence on Main Street was certainly felt.  Here are some of the stories from last weekend’s tropical storm.


Schiavoni’s Market

Food has been flying off the shelves at Schiavoni’s IGA Market. Unfortunately, owner Matt Schiavoni said it’s partially been a bit of a purge.

Last Friday, customers waited in long lines behind carts piled high with enough food to get them through the storm. The market sold 50 cases of water last Thursday, and at least 100 cases on Friday, Schiavoni said.

But by Monday, Schiavoni was piling food into the dumpster out back. He even had to call in a second bin.

Without electricity in the wake of Irene, the Sag Harbor IGA lost all frozen and perishable foods, like meat and dairy products. (Judy Schiavoni even trolled Main Street on Monday handing out ice cream for any and all takers.)

When all was said and done, Schiavoni said the damage really couldn’t have been any worse. Aside from the building sustaining physical damage, which he said fortunately it didn’t, “all the damage was caused when the power went out.”

An inventory was kept of every item tossed into the dumpster and will be recorded as an insurance claim. Meats and deli items were delivered on Wednesday. And when Schiavoni’s gets its next shipment of ice cream this Friday, the store will be up-and-running, just as it was a week before.

No More D Batteries

Emporium True Value Hardware Store

In the midst of shuttered storefronts and taped-up windows, Emporium True Value Hardware was an anomaly this past weekend: it looked the same before and — thanks to milder winds than originally predicted — after Irene came to town.

But inside, in the days leading up to the storm owner Frank D’Angelo said he sold-out of “D” batteries, flashlights and radios. Business was bustling Friday morning, as dozens of shoppers looked for amenities to prepare for Irene.

“It was absolutely insane,” said an employee. “At least a dozen people were waiting outside before we opened at 7:45 a.m.”

Signs were posted in at least three locations in the store informing customers that “D” batteries were out of stock.  And employees continually informed inquisitive customers that the store was also out of flashlights.

“We’re literally selling key-chain flashlights,” the employee said. Emporium True Value was also sold out of lanterns, lamp oil, radios and 6-volt batteries.  “Those were the first to go,” he said of the 6-volts.

Anticipating a flurry of returns on unused items, the store posted a hand-drawn sign near the battery display last week informing customers that batteries could not be returned. By Tuesday this week, it had been moved to the front counter next to the register.

However, D’Angelo said the store did not see any batteries back in its midst.

“Not a single one,” he confirmed.


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Our Gig, Too


As she stretched beige-colored masking tape across the length of her store’s front windows last Friday, Denise O’Malley of Our Gig, Too worried about the destruction Irene might bring. She said she was headed to the store’s basement next to move all merchandise to higher ground, in anticipation of flooding.

But Irene brought little of that.

Though her store was still “half-with-half-without” power by Tuesday afternoon, all in all O’Malley said the village was lucky.

“Everyone was expecting some water to come” with the storm, she said. But, like most businesses on Main Street, she said her shop suffered little damage.

“It looks like we prepared for nothing,” she continued. But …when you think of all the disasters we’ve seen recently — like Katrina and the tsunami in Japan — it seems like anything’s possible.”

O’Malley took a moment before continuing.  “If we had a tsunami…” she trailed off for a moment more. “We’d have no place else to go.”


Harbor Heights adjusted

Harbor Heights


Last week, Harbor Heights Gas Station hit “record breaking” sales.

That was what owner John Leonard declared on Friday as a steady stream of cars flowed through the station. Thousands of East End residents flocked to gas stations across the East End to fill up their tanks as a precautionary measure in preparation for the storm.

On Friday, Leonard said his station had been so busy, in fact, that “I’ve been working here for the past two days, non-stop!”

He added that the station received two truckloads with 9,200 gallons of fuel on Saturday and Monday to replenish the station’s stock. While the Getty station on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike ran out of fuel late Thursday afternoon, Leonard said he was ready for the barrage of vehicles that remained constant at Harbor Heights through Saturday.

“We were prepared,” he affirmed. Having been through several hurricanes in Florida himself, Leonard anticipated the gas-pump rush.  “I had my orders in on Tuesday for the week.”

The end of the week saw multi-car lineups at gas stations in East Hampton and Southampton, prompting 20-minute waits in some spots and even verbal altercations between drivers.

Leonard said there had been none of that at his gas station. Though he did add that one man stirred up a bit of trouble Friday when he tried to jump the line of cars; however, the situation was abated before the gloves came off.


Wedding

Still wearing her wedding gown — with a pair of orange high tops — when she arrived at the bar of The American Hotel last Saturday night, the sight of Debbie Hunekan and Carl Brandl, her tux-clad groom, was particularly surprising.

Despite the dire weather predictions, Brandl and Hunekan, who came to the hotel after tying the knot, decided to go through with their Saturday evening ceremony — which concluded just hours before the first winds set in.

“The wedding was supposed to take place on Long Beach,” Hunekan said this week.  “We called Judge Eddie Burke and he said, ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen. Long Beach is covered in water.’”

So the show moved south, to Hunekan’s mother’s house in Water Mill.

And while the couple had the perfect backdrop for a memorable occasion — they made their wedding song “Come Rain or Come Shine” and switched the evening’s cocktail to a Dark and Stormy — Brandl said the most touching part of the evening was seeing friends and family come together to keep the ceremony alive.

Friends stepped in to cater when the company they hired backed out; and, even though he had canceled all other events for Saturday, Hunekan said Steve Clark of Sperry Tents kept their wedding canopy in place for the duration of the evening.

Of their 90-or-so invited guests, 85 of them showed up.

“That made it all the more meaningful,” Brundl continued. “That they still came.”


Library

On Monday morning, though the John Jermain Memorial Library was open for business, the light streaming through the windows of its temporary home on West Water Street was the only light patrons had to read by.

On Wednesday, director Cathy Creedon beamed at the prospect she was able to open the library so soon after the storm, and was even more pleased at the number of patrons who stocked up on books beforehand.

On Monday, Creedon pointed to the practically empty new fiction stacks and said, “It looks like the battery section of the hardware store.”

But last Friday, Creedon nervously watched as adhesive flashing was placed on the roof of the historic JJML building on Main Street in preparation of the storm. Leaks at the building have grown over the last two years. While the library nears approval to move forward with restoration and expansion, each storm that arrives before the project is completed has the potential to damage the structure further.

Before the storm, Creedon said the library also removed from the exterior of the structure scaffolding that has been in place since 2006 to protect patrons from the crumbling façade. Library staff noticed the wood holding the scaffolding in place had rotted and worried that the storm could wrench it loose, creating a hazard.

On Monday, Creedon said the dome did not appear to show signs of more leakage, however a leak in the stairwell to the third floor rotunda had grown larger and the library’s terra cotta roof was also showing signs of water infiltration, a “grave concern” for the library board.

However, on Monday, Creedon remained happy that the library was still providing service.

“We will probably close when the angle of the sun no longer shines into the building,” she said late Monday afternoon.

“Yeah, like after its dark,” library circulation director Pat Brandt added wryly.


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Boats

Usually at this time of year, the Ship Ashore Marina boat yard is a dusty expanse that curves along a few hundred feet of Sag Harbor Cove.  While boats tend to come in and out of the water at regular intervals, they’re either stored in a massive shed on the property or tied up to the dock near the shallow shore.

Hurricane Irene changed all that.

“They’re packed like sardines!” one boat-owner exclaimed last Friday as he walked through the yard.

According Gayle Pickering, whose husband Rick owns Ship Ashore Marina, boat crews pulled about one boat every 20 minutes and ultimately pulled precisely 60 boats last Thursday, August 25, bringing the total number of land-bound vessels to roughly 170.

By Wednesday of this week — after the storm brought milder conditions than originally predicted — Rick Pickering said he was exhausted.

“Everyone’s walking around with stars in their eyes!” he exclaimed, noting that he and his crew had already put 126 boats back in the water since Monday. There are approximately 14 that will stay grounded, but he said he’s still got about 25 to go until Ship Ashore is back to basics.

Villages and Town Begin Clean up Efforts As Thousands of Residents Remain Without Power

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In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, which made landfall near New York City just after 9 a.m. on Sunday afternoon, many local officials noted that the East End of Long Island dodged a bullet, escaping a direct hit by a storm that ravaged portions of the eastern seaboard, led to 24 deaths and left millions without power.

On Monday morning, 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.

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Despite that, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said “the village is in relatively good shape,” a fact he attributes not just to the luck the East End experienced as Hurricane Irene weakened into a tropical storm and moved further west before making landfall in New York.

Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley has had his crews out since 4 a.m., said Gilbride, clearing roadways from trees and debris, making way for power crews. Gilbride said Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano was told by representatives from the Long Island Power Authority that they hope to have the village up and running with power by the end of the day.

As of Monday morning, LIPA has restored power to about 25% of the 523,000 customers that were affected by the weekend storm. An estimated 398,000 customers remain without power. As of noon on Monday, 342 residents in Sag Harbor remained without power. In Bridgehampton, 388 remained without power, while other sections of East Hampton and Southampton Towns remained largely without service.

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According to LIPA officials, full restoration of power on Long Island and in the Rockaways may take as long as a week.

In Southampton Town, Highway Department announced on Monday it would be doing a special “storm related” curbside pickup, and will pick up brush and larger branches – if they are separated into two different piles – from the streets. Any storm related kitchen waste or food waste will be accepted free of charge until Wednesday, August 31 at the North Sea, Hampton Bays, and Westhampton Transfer Stations.  Any storm-damaged appliances such as refrigerators and/or air conditioning units may be brought to the Hampton Bays and North Sea Transfer Stations, free of charge until Wednesday, August 31. Any storm damaged bulk items may be brought to Hampton Bays and North Sea Transfer Station, free of charge until Wednesday, August 31.  Any storm related brush disposal shall be accepted at North Sea, Hampton Bays and Westhampton Transfer stations free of charge until Sunday, September 4.

In East Hampton, Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson announced that the transfer stations in East Hampton would also accept debris at no charge.

Blacksmith Shop 3In Southampton Village, on Monday this historical society announced that the C.& E. Bennett Blacksmith Shop was a victim of Tropical Storm Irene.

This is terrible news for volunteers Ed and Carryl Howell who worked so hard on the Shop over many years. The collection of blacksmith tools came from Carryl Bennett Howell’s family who had a blacksmith shop in Water Mill. Ed and Carryl now live in Kentucky.

“The other buildings made it fine through the storm,” said the society in a press release. “One bonus, a dead apple tree - slated for removal at Halsey House – came down.”


Boarding Up Main Street

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Our Gig Too, Taping Inside adjusted

From miter saws and plywood planks to veritable starbursts of masking tape, Sag Harbor Village storefronts are a garish indication of what the village might have in store for it tomorrow.  Anticipating winds up to 60 miles per hour and rains that could bring up to 10 inches, many Main Street business owners are making efforts to secure fragile window panes, taking few chances with Hurricane Irene.

As of 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the most fortress-like preparations could be seen at Sylvester & Co. on the south side of Main Street, where three workers used a miter saw to cut rectangles of wood to fully mask the high-end shop.  (So as not to deter customers, signs atop the wooden covering notified passersby that the store was, in fact, still open for business.)

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With an electric saw of his own, Skip Nolan was in the process of boarding up Country Lane Studios—owned by his wife, Vickie—on Saturday afternoon when asked his opinion of the approaching storm.  He admitted he didn’t think the storm would be as powerful as many suspect; but, after drilling a nail into the window frame of the shop, he said it was best to err on the side of caution.

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Sen Restaurant was one of the first to cover-up with plywood, nailing perfectly measured rectangles over windows on both the north and western walls of the corner building (leaving customers to dine outdoors against a setting of plywood).  Flying Point Surf Shop followed suit across the street, but its windowpanes were shroud in a less obtrusive grey-colored board.

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Some shops wishing to protect their windows chose, instead of wood, tape to keep glass intact in the face of high winds.   As she stretched beige-colored masking tape the full length of her store’s front window Denise O’Maley of Our Gig Too said she was worried about the destruction potentially caused by Irene.  After completing the asterisk-like window design, she said she was headed to the store’s basement to move all merchandise—including doll-house sized models of wooden boats, likely to be ruined if caught in high waters—to higher ground, in anticipation of flooding.

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By mid-afternoon more than half of Main Street storefronts had yet to treat windows for stormy conditions.  And while some will have done so by day’s end, others are still waiting to see what Irene’s status will be by the end of the day before taking further precautions.

Local Arborists Prepare For Threat of Irene

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Bruce Marienfeld got the call Thursday night.

With Hurricane Irene threatening to bring 60 mile-per-hour winds and up to 10 inches of rain to the East End, Anton Hagen asked Marionfeld to prune the overgrown tree in the far corner of his yard; its branches were draped over the sidewalk, forming a relative canopy along the footpath over the bridge that separates Otter Pond from Upper Sag Harbor Cove.

“The storm knows no mercy and has no prejudice” when it comes to trees, Marienfeld said on Friday afternoon while holding a set of shears the length of his arm.  Pointing to the precarious position of this particular perennial, the tree-trimmer noted the slope of the soil along the bank of the low-flowing waterway, where the tree dug its roots.  With an excess of branches and rains likely to loosen the soil around its base, Marienfeld said this tree was definitely in need of care.

“I probably halved the amount of weight that was on here,” he said.  In all, Marienfeld removed seven branches, which amounted to about two yards of debris.

The arborist said he had two more jobs in Sag Harbor after he finished securing the Hagens’ tree, but for these he would be cleaning gutters before the storm.  He had previously trimmed about three trees prior to this one Friday, but said the real work will come after Irene is expected to have blown through the East End.

“I’ve had about 15 people already call and ask to be put first on the list on Monday,” he said.  He predicts he’ll have his work cut-out for him; but, fortunately, he added, “I work quick!”

Harbor Heights Sales Have “Broken Records” In Lead-Up To Storm

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Harbor Heights adjusted

That was what Harbor Heights gas station owner John Leonard declared yesterday, August 26 as a steady stream of about a dozen cars flowed through the station.  Thousands of East End residents have flocked to gas stations in the last couple days, filling up tanks as a recommended precaution in the lead-up to Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit Long Island full-force tomorrow, Sunday

The station has been so busy, in fact, Leonard said on Friday “I’ve been working here for the past two days non-stop!

He added that the station received a new truckload of 1,9200 gallons of fuel today, Saturday, and has already scheduled another 1,9200-load to replenish the station’s stock on Monday, after the storm is expected to have left the East End.  While the Getty station on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike ran out of fuel late Thursday afternoon, Leonard said his station was ready for the barrage of vehicles that has remained a constant at his station.

“We were prepared,” he said.  Have been through several hurricanes himself in Florida, Leonard anticipated the gas-pump rush.  “I had my orders in on Tuesday for the week.”

The tail end of the week saw multi-car lineups at gas stations in both East Hampton and Southampton Towns, subjecting some drivers to 20-minute waits to get to the pump, and prompting others into verbal altercations with other drivers.

Leanoard said, as of Friday, there have been no known altercations at his gas station.  Though he did say one young man nearly stirred up a bit of trouble Friday morning when he tried to jump the line; however, the situation was abated before the gloves came off.

Throne-Holst Signs State of Emergency For Southampton Town

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst signed a Declaration of a State of Emergency for the town of Southampton this morning, Saturday, according to a press release issued by Southampton Town Emergency Preparedness official Lt. Robert P. Iberger.  This will allow local officials to take necessary actions today, including spurring the evacuation of town residents in low-lying areas.

“If you reside in a coastal area, a low-lying area of a mobile home you need to evacuate,” Lt. Iberger stated in the press release.  A map of those prone living in areas to flooding can be viewed above.

According to Iberger, town fire districts will begin evacuating these neighborhoods according to a timetable beginning with Bridgehampton, Quogue and Westhampton at 10 a.m. this morning, August 27.  North Sea is expected to begin evacuations at 1 p.m.

Emergency responders (Fire, EMS or PD) will be issuing the evacuations, which will continue throughout the day.  However, Lt. Iberger recommends residents to assist Emergency Responders by voluntarily evacuating today as early as possible so as to avoid clogging roads.  ”If you think you may be in an at-risk location, err on the side of caution and evacuate,” he urges.  ”Residents who experienced ground water flooding back in March 2010 should evacuate until the storm passes.”

Shelter locations:

Pierson High School, 200 Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor

East Hampton High School, 2 Long Lane, East Hampton

Hampton Bays High School, 88 Argonne Road, Hampton Bays

Riverhead High School, 600 Harrison Avenue, Riverhead

Schiavoni’s Sees Storm and Labor Day Shopping Surge

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Schiavonis


As Hurricane Irene makes her way to the East Coast, sales in the village have continued to increase.  But, for Schiavoni’s IGA Market manager Matt Schiavoni, Hurricane Irene (expected to make landfall in Long Island this Sunday, August 28) is only half of it.

The boom in business that’s escalated over the last couple of days — extending check-out lines down the length of the store’s aisles and clearing shelves of such items as bread and water — also has to do with the upcoming holiday weekend.

“What’s happened is people are doing a huge shopping trip for Labor Day weekend, they’re looking forward one week,” Schiavoni said.  Typically, he said this weekend is when shoppers load-up for Labor Day barbecues and dinner parties.  But with the threat of Hurricane Irene on the horizon, he said many people are getting their shopping done now.

He pointed to a shopping cart at the front of the store to better explain his point.  It was filled with cookies and condiments, as well as non-perishable food items like peanut butter, and emergency essentials like batteries and bottled water.

“People are buying six to eight gallons of water at a time,” he continued, explaining that that’s not typical for most Labor-Day shopping sprees.

Schiavoni’s reportedly sold 50 cases of water yesterday, in addition to 100 cases of water before 10 a.m. this morning, Schiavoni said.  While he said the store is currently out of “D” batteries, he expects another shipment to arrive tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

Variety Store Supplies Keep Up With The Storm

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Variety Store


Just days before Hurricane Irene is expected to hit Long Island, Lisa Field, owner of the Variety Store on Main Street, frantically opens cardboard boxes in the back of her shop.  Little beads of sweat develop on her forehead.

“I have been calling every supplier I can!” she exclaimed while unpacking dozens of flashlights from a shipment just brought in this afternoon.  An hour after we spoke, Field said she was driving to Hampton Bays to meet with another distributor to collect 24 dozen packs of “D” batteries.

“We’re doing OK,” Field said of maintaining supplies for frantic customers in a hurry to stock-up on essentials before Hurricane Irene heads in.  She motioned to the piles of boxes stacked in front of her before adding, “It’s because I’m doing all this.”

This afternoon, there were a couple customers at the registers with baskets filled with batteries and tape.  Field added that she always bulks up on supplies in the beginning of August in preparation for hurricane season, which has helped the Variety Store maintain pace with the influx of shoppers this week.

The storm is expected to hit Long Island sometime on Sunday.

Hurricane Update, Friday 1 p.m.: Village Continues Preparations for Irene

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Hurricane Irene remains a category 2 storm off the coast of the Carolinas and as of Friday afternoon over 65 million people on the eastern seaboard are currently under a hurricane watch or warning, with the Outer Banks of North Carolina as well as the inner coves being evacuated in expectation of the hurricane’s landfall sometime late today or early tomorrow.

The storm is predicted to make landfall near New York City Sunday morning, although the path and strength of Irene still remains uncertain.

On Friday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley has begun removing anything from Long Wharf and throughout the village that has the potential to be blown away in the storm. He is also checking drainage throughout the village in an effort to keep flooding at a minimum.

Under the current path, Mayor Gilbride noted that the East End is predicted to be facing a tremendous amount of rain coupled with wind speeds of between 80 miles per hour and 100 miles per hour.

“Those are the kind of statistics that wake you up a little bit to what we are expecting to have to deal with,” he said.

Harbor Master Bob Bori has reached out to every boat owner occupying village dock space. Many, said Gilbride, have already relocated their vessels and the Coast Guard may decide to send a vessel or two to Sag Harbor Village during the storm said the mayor.

As of Friday afternoon, Mayor Gilbride said no evacuations were planned, but that he would be in regular contact with police and fire officials throughout the next three days. Fire Island is under a mandatory evacuation, and Southampton Village announced this morning that residents of Meadow Lane were being asked to evacuate voluntarily. A mandatory evacuation may be announced in the morning.

The affects of the storm are expected to impact East End residents starting on Saturday night. High winds, flooding and coastal erosion are anticipated as Hurricane Irene nears Long Island.

Sag Harbor Village officials spent this morning prepping for the storm, according to Mayor Brian Gilbride. Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano is leading emergency efforts for the village, he said.

At 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, Chief Fabiano convened a meeting with Mayor Gilbride, North Haven Mayor Laura Nolan, North Haven Deputy Mayor Jim Smyth, as well as members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, Sag Harbor Village Police Force and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley to give the team an update on the storm’s path and emergency management plans for the village.

According to Mayor Gilbride, Chief Fabiano has already taken the village’s generator to Pierson High School – the local evacuation center – and has confirmed it is working order in the event the evacuation center is needed.

“We are already talking about how to make sure people are safely evacuated,” said Mayor Gilbride.

He encouraged people to prepare for Hurricane Irene by stocking food and water in their homes, as well as flashlights and batteries in the event of a power outage. Mayor Gilbride added that for residents who need shelter for their animals, the Animal Rescue Center of the Hamptons has announced it has a about 50 slots for cats and dogs who cannot be evacuated to Pierson High School or neighboring evacuation centers.

He added that residents in the village who live in low lying areas should be aware that the storm is predicted to cause massive flooding. While Yardley’s crew has spent the last two days clearing drains in the village to keep flooding at a minimum, Mayor Gilbride said those who do live in low lying areas should prepare their homes for evacuation and if emergency management officials call for an evacuation of any neighborhood, residents should immediately comply.

“Make sure you have any extra medicine if you need it, on hand, top off your vehicles with fuel and if you have an elderly neighbor, please check in on them,” said Mayor Gilbride. “We have all been through this before and if we take care of each other and work together we will get through this fine.”

“We’ve been preparing for [hurricane season] for months,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

In fact, Southampton Town actually unveiled its official “2011 Hurricane Survival Guide” earlier this month, which provides detailed notes on how to prepare for and what to do in the event of a hurricane; it also provides a list of emergency contacts and evacuation sites in the town.  (A link to the guide can be found on the town’s website:www.southamptontownny.gov.)

Should either Southampton or East Hampton Town call a state of emergency and urge residents to evacuate their homes, Sag Harbor residents should go to Pierson High School, which is the local evacuation center. Other important numbers to keep on hand are: The American Red Cross of Suffolk County, 631-924-6700, the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management, 631-852-4900, the Long Island Power Authority, 1-800-490-0075 (to report down electric lines or an electrical emergency and National Grid, 1-800-490-0045 (to report the need for emergency gas service).

Evacuations and Beach Closures Announced in Southampton Village

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As the East End braces for Hurricane Irene, the Village of Southampton was the first municipality to call for a voluntary evacuation of all of Meadow Lane effective at 1 p.m. on Friday, August 26. It is possible a mandatory evacuation will be called for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., according to village officials.

The village has also closed all of its beaches as of 2 p.m. on Friday.