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Jose mostly spares LI but leaves flooding, some erosion

On Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, a tropical storm watch that had been in effect for Suffolk County was canceled. Jose will continue "to slowly weaken" as it passes southeast of the Island, according to the National Weather Service.  Flooding and beach erosion is expected along the South Shore of Long Island. (Credit: Newsday staff)

This story was reported by Patricia Kitchen, Mark Harrington, Joan Gralla, Carl MacGowan, William Murphy, Denise M. Bonilla, Rachelle Blidner and Emily C. Dooley. It was written by Gralla.

Jose, the onetime Category One hurricane that throttled down to an overnight tropical storm, largely spared Long Island from the havoc officials prepared for this week.

But before the system moved out to sea, it whipped up waters and took aim at the Island’s shorelines.

Jones Beach State Park was closed Wednesday after Jose caused the worst flooding there since superstorm Sandy in 2012, according to George Gorman, the parks department’s Long Island deputy regional director.

While the Atlantic washed over the boardwalk and into buildings, electrical and telephone systems were spared, thanks to upgrades after Sandy.

Aided by workers from New York State’s departments of transportation and homeland security, officials pumped out the park’s flooded areas and bulldozers dug troughs so the ocean could flow back down the beach, Gorman said. Officials hope to have the beaches open for the spate of warm weather forecast for coming days.

Ocean conditions, however, could remain dicey as the storm hovers off Montauk and slowly pulls away.

The Upton-based National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory until 2 a.m. on Thursday, with a coastal flood advisory lasting until noon. Riptides are still a risk through Thursday, it said.

Flooding was also an issue for some more low-lying areas, including Lindenhurst.

Resident Debbie Lemaire’s road, South Eighth street, had several inches of water Wednesday, as water bubbled from a drain blocks away from the Great South Bay. Water reached into her garage Tuesday night and began to recede by early Wednesday afternoon.

“You spend all this money fixing your home and you still have to deal with this nonsense,” she said.

By the early evening, PSEG Long Island reported outages were down sharply from the 2,349 customers who probably had lost power due to the storm, as of 11:20 a.m. Wednesday.

The utility said it released hundreds of off-island crews after Jose turned to the east and proved milder than expected.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman James D’Ambrosio said all its Long Island projects were undamaged: “Everything worked as constructed.”

In addition to Lindenhurst, minor flooding was reported in Bay Shore, Mastic Beach and Islip, said John Jordan, Suffolk deputy commissioner of fire, rescue and emergency services.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said there the erosion along the oceanfront was not “substantial.”

“Downtown Montauk has held up,” he said.

Waves washed over a narrow, low-lying spot near Fire Island National Seashore’s Wilderness Visitor Center, but no breach was cut. “The ocean-to-bay connection is temporary and only exists at high tide,” National Park Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Rogers said in an email Wednesday.

In 2012, Sandy opened 3 breaches; two were closed and a third in the Otis Pike Wilderness Area was left alone.

Despite some flooding at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, Gorman said the operator will hold weekend concerts.

Other state parks were open, but not for swimming, he said. “The surf is still extremely dangerous — waves 8- to 10-foot-high and dangerous rip currents,” he said.

Montauk’s Hither Hills State Park has had some dune erosion, and Babylon’s Robert Moses had some flooding, but the amount of erosion was not clear, Gorman said.

Henry J. Bokuniewicz, a professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said Jose appeared to be a fairly standard storm for Long Island.

“These shore protection projects and efforts, they don’t stop erosion,” Bokuniewicz said. “The erosion processes go on but they do protect what they are meant to protect.”

Above-normal temperatures are expected for the coming days, with Thursday looking at mostly sunny skies and highs in the low 80s, the weather Service said. Long Islanders can expect highs around 77 for Friday and back to 80 for Saturday and Sunday.

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