Residents of several Shoreham homes have been evacuated after their basements and yards were flooded by runoff caused by melting snow from a nearby sod farm, officials said Thursday.
Brookhaven Town officials were assessing damage caused by the runoff as cleanup efforts continued, said Anthony Gallino, the town's chief deputy highway superintendent.
Gallino said melted snow rushed from the farm downhill to neighboring homes Wednesday afternoon as temperatures rose into the 50s. Water raced across backyards and crashed through basement windows. Cleanup crews were on the scene Wednesday night and Thursday morning, he said.
"The water on the sod farm found the path of least resistance, which was these yards," Gallino said by cellphone from the scene Thursday afternoon. "We melted two feet of snow yesterday, so we had a lot of water running off these fields."
At least four homes on Sherwood Drive near Cooper Street were flooded, Gallino said. Two of those houses on Sherwood Drive were condemned by Brookhaven Town officials, a town spokesman said.
As water swept down the streets, residents at first thought water pipes had burst.
"We got this as a water main break," Rocky Point fire Chief Bill Lattman said from the flooded streets. "When we arrived on the scene, we found . . . the sod farm defrosted and all the water started overflowing into the backyards of the house on Sherwood Drive. It's all snowmelt."
Lattman said three homes had damage, but water damage caused the basement walls to collapse in the fourth home.
Three fire departments responded with pumps to vacuum water from the homes and out onto the streets, Lattman said. Firefighters cleared snow from storm drains, letting water flow down, past curbside snowbanks. At least one official from the Brookhaven Town fire marshal's office was at the scene to assess the damage.
Gallino said crews cut a trench from a road through residential properties "to alleviate the water from running in the yards. . . . We had to cut 200 feet to where the water was."
Floodwaters had slowed by Thursday morning, but Gallino said some residents may be displaced for awhile.
"I'm sure the homeowners have a mess to clean up," he said.
With daytime temperatures above freezing this week, Lattman said he expects more snow to melt and is especially concerned because rain is expected on Saturday.