Hurricane Sandy pushes 'waist deep' water over Ocean Beach, says police chief

Three families threatened by rising floodwaters were evacuated by Ocean Beach police Monday afternoon to the Woodhull School, the highest spot in the Fire Island village, police Chief George Hesse said.

At Midway, in the center of Ocean Beach, water was about thigh high Monday afternoon.

"I'm here 20 years. I've never seen the water that deep before," Hesse said.

About 15 to 20 people remained in the village, a well-known tourist spot on Fire Island, and they plan to stay, he said.

"Whoever is here is here."

There is a mandatory evacuation in effect for Fire Island.

Hesse noted that the state had sent an urban search and rescue team to Fire Island to evacuate people, but said Ocean Beach is cut off from other Fire Island communities such as Kismet, Saltaire and Fair Harbor because sand roads separate Ocean Beach from them. Those roads are washed out.

"The water is waist deep. There's no way anybody is going to get to us," he said.

Both the village fire department and police station have flooded. Police staff relocated to Hesse's apartment, which is about 6 feet off the ground.

Fourteen people were helped off Fire Island by Suffolk County police and sheriff's departments and the urban rescue team, Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Monday an emergency police vehicle had to be abandoned during that effort. No one was injured.

Lori Mattiasen, a Fire Island Realtor and lifelong resident of Seaview, said the Long Island Power Authority cut off electricity to all of Fire Island on Sunday. The few remaining families are using generators.

She said low-lying houses had already flooded and that residents are bracing for Monday night's high tide, expected about 11:30 p.m.

"What's really going to be scary," she said, "is tonight's high tide."

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