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Winter storm batters Long Island with coastal flooding and high winds

Storm surge from Winter Storm Finn flooded Seaview Marina on Fire Island.
Luke Kaufman
Storm surge from Winter Storm Finn flooded Seaview Marina on Fire Island.

Winter Storm Finn battered the Northeast on Tuesday night with high winds and coastal floods, prompting some Suffolk County officials to compare the damage from wind, rain and storm surge to that of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy over a decade ago.

Many beaches along the south shore have suffered severe erosion. The storm brought down trees and knocked out power for about 25,000 PSEG Long Island customers.

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said Overlook Beach and Cedar Beach have been almost completely wiped out, and that he’ll be meeting with federal officials later this week.

“When push comes to shove, Mother Nature wins," Schaffer said on Wednesday. "And she really lashed a fury at us last night. So we're just kind of getting our bearings about us and hopefully on Friday we'll be able to take a look at the damage and see what the feds and the state government have to say.”

Kismet Market on Fire Island was flooded from Tuesday night's storm.
Luke Kaufman
Kismet Market on Fire Island was flooded from Tuesday night's storm.

On Fire Island, a popular vacation spot that’s only reachable by ferry, PSEG Long Island had to cut off power so it could repair a flooded substation.

The narrow barrier island got hit with a storm last month, so residents are keeping a close eye on the forecast to see how predictions about a third storm this weekend pan out.

"I think three storms in a row of this intensity coming up on this track with very low barometers is, in fact, a very serious situation," Suzy Goldhirsch, president of the Fire Island Association said. "It's going to be a 1-2-3 punch."

Finn demolished sand dunes in the Fire Island Pines community, and caused ferry operators to suspend service since many of the marinas are underwater. Goldhirsch said town and county officials have coordinated the storm response well.

“We are really getting a lot of help, because we are the barrier island that protects a good stretch — a 32-mile stretch — of the south shore of Long Island," she said. "We're out here. We take the hit from the storms. We get battered, but we keep going.”

The storm surge washed out roads in the Town of East Hampton and left about 400 residents there without power Wednesday.

"We've got a lot of storm surge that we're deeply concerned about," said East Hampton Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. "We believe the worst is past here. But you know, the issue is that there's another storm coming this weekend and middle of next week. We have a new era of storm impacts.”

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.