As the floodwaters from superstorm Sandy began to recede after several days, Bruce Beck, commodore of Anchorage Yacht Club in Lindenhurst, donned waders and walked to the facility to examine the damage.
It was extensive: Not only had dozens of boats floated from their storage spots out into the bay, only to sink, but the office also had filled with 3 feet of water and the repair building had burned to the ground.
"It was heartbreaking," Beck said. And the tab -- well over $2 million -- will be covered only partly by insurance.
Many marinas along the South Shore and a few on the North Shore were hammered by Sandy, losing docks and having buildings flooded, burned or knocked off foundations. Repairs will take until spring or longer, and some owners without insurance may just walk away, industry leaders said.
"From Shinnecock all the way west, every marina on the South Shore has been affected in some way," said Chris Squeri, co-owner of Atlantic Yacht Haven in Freeport and executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association, which represents western Long Island nautical businesses. "Some guys lost all their docks; boats were everywhere. Places that faced an open bay or faced east without any protection really got hit pretty good. Some marinas did not have flood insurance and some did not have dock coverage."
Nonetheless, said Conrad Kreuter, owner of Moriches Boat & Motor in East Moriches and president of Empire State Marine Trades Association, a statewide organization, "most of the guys are licking their wounds at this point, but they'll be back."
Kreuter said, "The floor of my building is 6 feet above high tide and we had 3 feet of water in the building, which is the highest ever from any storm" since opening in 1955. "We had three walls moved off the foundation and our retail store was hammered by wave action," he said. He estimated the damage will exceed $400,000, but because he had flood insurance, as well as building and contents insurance, "We're in pretty good shape."
At Anchorage, which has operated as a yacht club since 1985, Beck said, "We've had nor'easters where we've had an inch or two of water in the building, but we had upwards of 3 feet in this storm. We've had hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to electrical infrastructure -- we still don't have electric back.
"And our service center burned down during the storm," said Beck, who estimated the cost of that loss alone at more than $2 million.
At Empire Point Marina in Island Park, owner Joe DeVita said he will have to rebuild his entire facility at a cost of up to $2 million. "Boats banged into our buildings and destroyed them," he said. "We had 10 feet of water in all of our buildings and inventory floated away down the street."
He had only partial flood insurance coverage for the buildings because "you don't foresee having a storm of this magnitude," he said. But the docks that disappeared were insured.
Gary Stiriz of Stiriz's Marina And Fishing Station in Mastic Beach said, "We had 7 feet of water -- the highest level since the 1938 hurricane. Everything in my building was completely under water. The south wall was completely blown in." He said he didn't have flood insurance and expected the loss to total more than $200,000.
Paul Dietzel, who has owned E&P Marine Services in Mastic Beach since 1984, said no storm since then has ever created so much damage. "Sixteen of the boats that I had pulled out for the hurricane floated off the blocks and were spread all over the neighborhood," he said. "My building had 3 feet of water in it -- we lost all the tools in my shop -- power washers, generators and a lot of inventory."
Dietzel said his insurance company doesn't want to pay anything because of a hurricane exclusion. Asked if he can afford to rebuild on his own, he responded, "I have no choice. I still have docks, so I'll have an opportunity to have income next year."
"I never saw anything like it in my life and never thought I would," Dietzel said.