Storm damage to the Asharoken seawall at the village's juncture with Eatons Neck likely won't be repaired until fall, an Army Corps of Engineers official said Tuesday.
Until then, Asharoken Avenue, the only road to Eatons Neck, should remain passable for one-lane travel, officials said - unless there is another major storm.
Part of the seawall protecting the road was destroyed when the storm washed out the road's shoulder Saturday and caused utility poles to topple Monday night, causing another round of temporary traffic closures.
The road reopened Tuesday about 11:15 a.m. for one-lane traffic after Verizon crews repaired and replaced the utility poles. The road, closed over the weekend, had been reopened Monday after Huntington Town road crews dumped 600 tons of gravel to fill in the washed-out shoulder.
Northport schools Superintendent MaryLou McDermott said students and staff in the two communities were given excused absences Tuesday. Many made it to the schools after the road reopened and one, custodian James Brumm, got to work an hour early after being ferried past the closure by his son on their clamboat.
Thomas Creamer, the Corps' New York chief of operations, said Tuesday he will request funds from headquarters to pay for a study to determine the best repair for the break in the outer steel seawall, which protects an intact inner concrete seawall. "It might take four or five weeks to get the money here and then crank up the study team, and then they may take three or three and half months to produce a report," he said. After that, the Corps would allocate or seek funding, advertise for bids and hire a contractor.
He said one potential solution would call for replacing the broken sections of steel wall and bolstering it with large rocks.
"I'm very disappointed with that timeline," Asharoken Mayor Patricia Irving said Tuesday. "The next storm will damage the road beyond the capability of the village to repair it." She said without more rapid help from all levels of government, "Eatons Neck will become an island."
Patricia Del Col, the town's director of engineering services, said the gravel filled in a 41/2-foot-deep drop-off carved into the shoulder by the storm's waves. Irving said some of the gravel was being washed onto the road at high tide, so Del Col said the town is considering using larger rocks to hold the gravel in place.
Most Asharoken and Eatons Neck residents seemed resigned to the inconvenience. Greg Blower, a nine-year Asharoken resident, said he had to work from home Tuesday, missed going with his father to a doctor's appointment and his daughter had to be driven to school after the road reopened. But he would never consider moving.
"The Eatons Neck-Asharoken area is one of the most beautiful places on Long Island," he said.
With Deborah S. Morris
and John Valenti