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Winter storm dumps heavy rain and snow on Connecticut, while eroding Long Island beaches

Photo courtesy Luke Kaufman
A community effort on Fire Island to bolster the shoreline is working. Waves crash onto the sand dunes pulling the sand out, which then causes the waves to dissipate.

The National Weather Service warned of intense flooding and significant beach erosion for Connecticut and Long Island after a winter storm on Sunday night.

Heavy rainfall wrapped up by Monday morning with a coastal flood warning extended for Fairfield County, Connecticut, and eastern Long Island until earlier in the afternoon. Flooding around the island ended up being mostly moderate.

In Norwalk, police say some areas along the coast suffered flooding and have asked drivers to avoid them. Milford, Stratford and Westbrook also reported flooding issues.

Some residents were left in the dark for much of the morning. Schools were closed in observance of the Martin Luther King holiday. Eversource reported over 1,700 customers without power at the height of the storm in Connecticut. That number was down to a little over 1,400 by midday.

United Illuminating reported about 150 outages, with many of them in Bridgeport and Fairfield. Fewer than 100 customers were without service in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

On Long Island, storm surge and 69 mile per hour wind gusts resulted in the loss of some beach on Fire Island, a skinny, 32-mile barrier island that protects the south shore of Long Island against storm surge.

Suzy Goldhirsh, the president of the Fire Island Association, which represents the few hundred homeowners on the island, said sand dunes and beach grass protects the vulnerable coastline.

“They did their job, they held back the storm surge, and now the wind will come around south again, and start blowing the sand up again,” Goldhirsh said, “and you know, the cycle will continue.”

These practices have proved to work in the short term. But when the National Weather Service predicts wave action of up to 13 feet, these storms threaten homes and businesses just feet from the ocean.

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.
Mike Lyle is a former reporter and host at WSHU.