UPDATE: The majority of damage was done to Western communities (Ocean Bay Park, Seaview, Ocean Beach, etc.) and not Eastern communities (The Pines and Grove). The Pines’ oceanfront houses lost decks and pools, as well as its dune, and some boardwalks have been badly damaged. But most of the community, including the commercial district, harbor etc. survived intact and no houses were lost. We apologize for the error.
Hurricane Sandy has really done a number on the Eastern seaboard, though New York’s Fire Island, a historically gay vacation hotspot, suffered a significant amount of damage in what authorities are calling the worst storm to hit the island since 1938.
Eighty percent of the homes facing the ocean have been damaged to some extent, while a dozen were either destroyed or simply washed out to sea, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone told Long Island daily paper, Newsday.
Bellone noted that seawater breached the island in four places, warning, “It will have changed in a number of ways.”
One breach in the eastern end is so deep it threatens to create a new inlet. Superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore Chris Soller said “these next tide cycles are going to tell the story,” as more breaches and changes in geography are possible.
According to Ocean Beach Fire Chief Ian Levine, floods swept through Fire Island’s streets and structures. “It’ll take years to rebuild everything,” he said.
Luckily, there have been no casualties. Authorities initially thought around 60 people rode out the storm on the barrier island, but it turned out be 120, all of whom were accounted for.
Town spokesman Tim Ruggeri said first responders were rescuing residents stranded by floodwaters until 4 in the morning, blaming residents who had refused to evacuate. “This really taxes our first responders,” he said. “Last night put us in a pretty severe situation, getting people out.”
Those who did evacuate won’t be allowed back to Fire Island until at least the weekend, the fire chief said.