Updated: 3:10 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Dubbed a “superstorm” by weather forecasters, Hurricane Sandy pummeled Bellmore-Merrick with floodwaters that reached three to six feet in many parts of south Bellmore and south Merrick and destroyed homes and cars, while also bringing hurricane-force wind gusts that toppled trees, tore the siding off houses, and ripped apart fences and decks.
One south Bellmore home burned to the ground amid the storm. Volunteer firefighters tried to save the house, but could only contain the blaze, keeping it from neighboring homes by extinguishing the flames with floating water tanks, officials said.
This monster storm of historic proportions first brought flooding to low-lying streets in Bellmore-Merrick neighborhoods south of Merrick Road on Monday between 8 and 9 a.m., when a heavy tidal surge forced water through storm drains and onto roads. But Sandy hadn’t yet made landfill in New Jersey.
The flooding subsided for much of Monday, only to return with a vengeance that evening around 6 p.m. The floodwaters started as a trickle out of the storm drains before rapidly building and then roaring across residential streets at the height of Monday’s full moon, which was shrouded in clouds, creating an eerie glow above the tumult. The floodwaters peaked shortly after Sandy reached the New Jersey shoreline. Bellmore-Merrick residents said the flooding was so bad that it looked as though the bay had submerged the community’s normally quiet peninsulas south of Merrick Road, with only multistory homes and trees peering out above the raging waters.
Floodwaters reached all the way to the Merrick Road business district, inundating the small shops and offices that line the thoroughfare. With no streetlights on Merrick Road, traffic jammed up after the storm. Only a small section of the Bellmore business district, two blocks long around Ace Hardware, had power. Across the street from Ace, the line outside the Bellmore Hess gasoline station extended for blocks, and people crowded into the Bare Naked Bakery for hot coffee and gluten-free bagels.