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Ocean Beach on Fire Island inundated with coastal floodwaters

Flooding is seen at Ocean Beach on Fire

Flooding is seen at Ocean Beach on Fire Island on Dec. 9, 2014. Credit: Ian Levine

Floodwaters in Ocean Beach on Fire Island topped 2 feet during Tuesday's nor'easter, washing into a few homes and stores, the town's fire chief said.

"This is probably the worst since Sandy," Ocean Beach Fire Chief Ian Levine said, referring to the superstorm of October 2012. "We've got over 2 feet of water in town and in stores.

"It was over my knees, it was almost up to my waist in certain spots," in downtown Ocean Beach, Levine said.

Mayor James S. Mallott cautioned that the floodwaters might linger on land a few days.

"This water will probably be here two to three days," he said. "Once it calms down and the bay gets back to normal height, we'll get draining, and by Saturday the sun will be shining and the birds will be singing."

On Tuesday emergency vehicles found it difficult to navigate Burma Road, the route that runs down the barrier island's backbone, partly due to a couple of overwashes during high tide, he said.

"The toughest part is down by the lighthouse," the mayor said. "Some of the pools of water are 31/2 feet deep and over the whole road, so there is no way around it."

Debbie Goldsmith, a year-round resident of Ocean Beach, said a canoe would prove useful.

"It's over 13 inches outside my door, it's right over my boot," said Goldsmith, whose home sits in the middle of the island. "The puddles, they are like lakes."

Another nearby community, Ocean Bay Park, also experienced coastal flooding, according to the Ocean Bay Park Association.

How high the water rises hinges not only on how long the storm lasts but on the wind's direction.

The northeast-southwest direction of the wind helped hold the ocean's tides offshore.

This is the reverse of the course Sandy took, when the wind mainly blew in from the south, causing the ocean to wash over the island in places.

Ocean Beach Police Officer John Zois said some of the under 100 off-season residents called to get a sense of the potential flooding, but mostly because police headquarters is right next to the ferry terminal -- and therefore is one of the best places in Ocean Beach to assess any flood-related issues.

"I think before Sandy no one would have thought twice about water like this . . . After Sandy, everybody's wondering if there's going to be a flood or not."

With John Valenti

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