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Asharoken mayor: Main road reopens Monday

LTC Michael Clancy, Deputy Commander and Chief of

LTC Michael Clancy, Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, surveys the scene where a seawall in Asharoken was knocked over by the weekend storm. (March 15, 2010) Photo Credit: James Carbone

Asharoken Avenue, closed Saturday because of a ruptured sea wall, has been reopened and the Army Corps of Engineers is coming in to determine how to repair the damage, Asharoken Mayor Patricia Irving said Monday morning.

Irving said traffic is "one road in, one road out" and that the roadway is being carefully monitored by police.

She said the Northport school district was notified Sunday to allow extra time for school buses that use the road, because shoulders on Asharoken Avenue have been washed out by rain.

"Everything is moving," she said of morning traffic. "We're doing as much as possible, but everything takes time."

About 700 families were marooned on the spit of land that juts into Long Island Sound off Northport when 40 percent of the 500-foot-long sea wall that protects Asharoken Avenue - the only road in and out of the village - was toppled by Saturday's storm. Water gushed around and under the pavement, leaving the road potentially compromised.

Irving declared a state of emergency at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, closing the road to all but emergency traffic. By Sunday afternoon, about 40 cars were lined up on the neck side of the closure, waiting for the road to reopen.

"It resembles a war zone out here," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who phoned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from Village Hall. Thomas M. Creamer, the Corps' New York chief of operations, said Corps engineers Monday will examine the sea wall, which was built in 1998 for $1.019 million.

A Corps assessment of damage to the sea wall caused by November's nor'easter is due to be completed later this month, Creamer said.

Israel said he will seek emergency funding to repair the sea wall and to help the village fix its road.

With an annual budget of $2.8 million, Irving said Asharoken will be stretched to fix the road on its own. "We have no such money," she said. "We're going to be reaching to everyone for help."

The good news is that no one in Asharoken or Eatons Neck was injured in the storm, Irving said, though scores were without electricity.

The road was opened for a short time Sunday morning at low tide. That's when Christine DiPaola of Eatons Neck drove with her brother to get breakfast in Northport. When they tried to return home, the road was closed again. She waited in her car for two hours until 3 p.m., when Asharoken police allowed cars to pass single-file down the road's middle - the sides of the pavement were still too dangerous.

"It's never been this bad," she said.

Earlier on Sunday, Marco and Elena Pescedto sat in their sport utility vehicle on Asharoken Avenue, all dressed up, waiting for the road to open so they could get to a 2 p.m. wedding in Astoria. By 2:25 p.m., they'd seen enough.

"The best thing for us is to go home now," Marco Pescedto, 73, said as he turned the Lincoln Aviator around. "Thirty years we've been living here and this is the worst I've ever seen."

With Reid J. Epstein

and Gary Dymski

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