Rockland sheriff: Marine unit hit hard by Sandy
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The Rockland County Sheriff's Marine Unit -- housed along the Hudson River in hard-hit Stony Point -- suffered big losses from superstorm Sandy.
When 15-foot storm surges swept in Oct. 29, a 26-foot Boston Whaler -- dubbed Marine Unit 1 -- was lifted from its secure dry dock by Hudson River waters at Patsy's Bay Marina and slammed into surrounding vessels, causing hull and engine damage, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said.
"We secured everything before the storm. We backed everything down," Falco said. "I've been here 35 years, I was in charge of the marine unit at one time and I've never seen anything like it. Our boats were intertwined with another 75 boats. They were all piled on top of each other."
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The marine unit has its headquarters and a storage shed along the river on Beach Road, both which were heavily flooded.
"During the night, my officers couldn't get up there to check on anything because the water was up so high," said Falco. "Most of our equipment that was inside our headquarters was washed away. We lost the storage shed."
All the weapons in the storage shed, including shotguns and long rifles, were kept in a heavy safe and have been recovered, Falco said.
A second boat, Marine Unit 2, that was not damaged has been removed to the Haverstraw Marina to prepare for winter storage, Falco said.
"The good thing is that we're at the end of the season," Falco said. "We shut the unit down at this time so it's not hurting our operation."
The marine unit gears up again each year in March.
"I hope by that time we can have everything situated to be ready for the summer when it gets busy."
The sheriff's marine unit -- which has two patrol officers and one sergeant -- covers 33 miles of waterfront along the Hudson River from the New Jersey border with Rockland County, up to the Bear Mountain Bridge. It also helps patrol the waterway along Indian Point and assists with Westchester County and New York City as needed, Falco said, while tending to water rescues and disabled vessels in its own jurisdiction.
A dollar amount of damages is being worked up by the county insurance department to put in a claim with FEMA.
"This is a setback but we're not going to let it break us," Falco said. "We'll be back in service next year."