Hurricane Henri puts Long Island under state of emergency


The old saying “the calm before the storm” was alive and well on the South Shore of Long Island early Saturday as beach club members relaxed along the Atlantic Beach village shoreline before the forecasted arrival of Hurricane Henri.

With Long Island under a state of emerency as announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Saturday and  under Nassau County under a tropical storm warning, preparations were being made at all levels of government. In Cedarhurst and Lawrence storm drains were cleaned and residents cautioned about downed power lines and local flooding. Because the torm is expected to hit eastern Long Island the hardest, service on some Long Island Rail Road branches will be suspended at midnight. 

“The county is very, very well prepared for the upcoming storm,” said Jonathan Kohan, the assistant chief of Atlantic Beach Fire Rescue, a 38-member all-volunteer first responder unit headquartered near the foot of the Atlantic Beach Bridge. “From the fire-fighting service side, there is a tremendous coordination of assets for both fire and EMS (emergency medical service), it’s a multi-faceted approach. Everybody is working in tandem to make sure there is a seamless approach should something happen.”          

A storm surge watch remains, according to the National Weather Service. The latest forecast has winds 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. There is a potential for winds 58 to 73 mph.      People should plan for what the NWS calls “dangerous wind of equivalent strong tropical storm force. Efforts to protect life and property should be completed as soon as possible. Prepare for significant wind damage. If need be move to safe shelter before the wind becomes hazardous.

Town of Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman, who lives in Atlantic Beach and represents the Third Council District, said that residents should be paying attention to warnings and evacuation orders. The district also includes East Atlantic Beach, Inwood, Lawrence, North and South Valley Stream and Meadowmere Park, along with a portion of Cedarhurst, Elmont, Franklin Square, Malverne, Valley Stream, West Hempstead and Woodmere.  

“If you are ordered to evacuate you should , if not you got to be smart, have a full tank of gas, have your flashlights ready, have drinkable ready, and stay inside, because of the one biggest things with respect to getting injured in a storm like this is getting hit by debris that might  be blowing in the wind,” Blakeman said. “That’s the biggest danger. So if you stay inside, shelter at home you should be OK.” 

The NWS warns that the high winds could damage roofing and siding, and porches, awnings, carports, and sheds. Buildings could experience window, door and garage door failures. Mobile homes could be damaged, especially if unanchored. Unsecured lightweight objects could be become dangerous projectiles. Trees could be snapped, toppled or uprooted. Fences and  roadway signs could be blown over. Roads could be impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places. A few bridges, causeways and access routes impassable.

There could be power outages and PSEG Long Island supplied assessment.  “Given the potential intensity of the storm, the damage may be severe and some outages may last up to seven to 10 days; however, if the forecast continues to strengthen and the storm moves farther west, restoration could take up to 14 days,” Michael Sullivan, senior director of Transmission & Distribution at PSEG Long Island said in a news release. “We are prepared for hurricane force winds and are informing customers to help set expectations about the storm's potential so that they can also prepare.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran called PSEG Long Island’s storm assessment “unacceptable.” “Long Island is constantly preparing for major storms, so it is unacceptable for PSEG to claim they will need seven to ten days to restore power,” she said in a statement. “Our residents deserve better. PSEG must call in more line crews to deal with this issue.”