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Long Island

Storms push LI March rainfall total to new high

The ceaseless rain that fell Monday and Tuesday pushed March rainfall totals on Long Island to historic heights and left a soggy legacy of flooding, beach erosion and damaged homes, not to mention a yearning for sun.

According to records kept at Brookhaven National Laboratory, 12.1 inches of rain had fallen this month as of Tuesday afternoon, shattering the March record of 10.37 inches, set in 2001. The lab has records dating back to 1949.

From the East End, where already waterlogged ground struggled to contain the downpour, to the Island's popular summer beaches - some literally vanishing in the Atlantic, the storm showed no mercy.

"It's horrible," said Rich Baker, acting Islip public works commissioner. "I've never seen it this bad."

Whether flying or driving, Tuesday wasn't a day for travel. There were lengthy flight delays at the region's airport, and some area roads were impassable.

A stretch of Northern Boulevard in Syosset was under 4 feet of water. In North Bay Shore, Baker said he saw two cars that seemed to be floating.

After the deluge, there's work to be done. Long Island homeowners are pumping out basements. Crews are pumping water from roads and drainage sumps, which will take time in the heavily saturated East End.

And pothole repair crews are looking to redo earlier fixes. "This rain," Baker said, "it's done a number on some of the temporary patches we had out there."

The rain brought little harm to farmers, though. The ground remains too cold for seeds to germinate, said Mark Zaweski, president of the Long Island Farm Bureau, and heavy planting hasn't begun.

With sun and breeze, the ground dries fast, he said. The forecast for Wednesday calls for clearing skies and temperatures in the mid-50s with a gradual warming trend and dry conditions into the weekend.

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