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Fire Island’s Ocean Beach dries out after tidal flooding

Bay View Walk in Ocean Beach was inundated

Bay View Walk in Ocean Beach was inundated on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, as a result of tidal flooding from the nor'easter that hit Long Island. Credit: Gary Cuomo

Gary Cuomo spent Wednesday morning cleaning off and drying out equipment from his plumbing and property management business after a foot of water overtook his office in Ocean Beach on Fire Island.

The water came courtesy of a nor’easter Monday into Tuesday, which the National Weather Service said caused tidal flooding that made some roads in communities on the immediate South Shore of Long Island impassable.

“It’s not as bad as [superstorm] Sandy but it’s the closest we’ve had,” said Cuomo, 67, who opened Love the Plumber on Bay Walk in 2006. “The water that flooded us was strictly from the bay — it went past the bay to the center of the island.”

Cuomo said tide levels were 2 to 3 feet higher than usual. Ocean Beach police said the water reached its peak about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s still ankle deep in the streets but when I came over [Tuesday] in the truck with my guys to work and there was just too much water, we had to turn back,” Cuomo, a Farmingdale resident, said. “There were people in kayaks . . . it was about 3 feet deep through the whole downtown.”

Cuomo said that until the water receded on Wednesday there was a “good 2 1⁄2 feet” of water in the yard where he keeps plumbing supplies, propane gas tanks, golf carts and trailers.

“Nothing was floating as it did in Sandy but I knew it was serious when they canceled the ferry and freight boat service — they run pretty much all the time,” Cuomo said. “My secretary’s helping me clean everything up — there’s residue and dirt and a mold smell like in Sandy.”

During Sandy, which came ashore in late October 2012, waist-deep water washed over Ocean Beach, destroying some homes and damaging its sewer plant.

Cuomo said his business was open Wednesday while the post-nor’easter cleanup was underway.

In a statement, Mayor James S. Mallot said the village “experienced a type of nor’easter that is normal for this time of year.”

“The village was prepared and experienced moderate flooding downtown as well as some beach erosion,” Mallot said. “It was nothing out of the ordinary for us and we are back to business as usual.”

Ocean Beach, with more than 500 houses and more than two dozen commercial properties, is located on a stretch of Fire Island south of Islip Town. The community, accessible primarily by ferry or boat, attracts thousands of beachgoers each summer.

“There’s been no service since Monday but we’ll be back up and running” on Thursday, said Morgan Mooney, a captain and social media director for Fire Island Ferries. “It was canceled because of high tides and strong winds associated with the storm.”

Ocean Beach Police Officer Michael Mills said Wednesday the extent of the flooding started being noticed Tuesday afternoon when authorities began making their way around the village to assess the situation.

“A couple of local businesses on Bay Walk had water inside . . . , ” Mills said. “You could see it from their front doors.”

Mills said conditions were much better Wednesday.

The water in general has “receded enough to where you can walk with boots on,” he said.


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