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Sandy spins a tale in two villages

Ted Morfis and his granddaughter, Kendall Morfis, 12,

Ted Morfis and his granddaughter, Kendall Morfis, 12, take a row boat out on the flooded Creek Road in Bayville (Oct. 29, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

Two villages on opposite shores of Long Island were choked into isolation Monday as the storm's floodwaters filled their main arteries, cutting off escape routes and stranding thousands of residents.

Like much of Long Island, they were overwhelmed by the superstorm. But the two fishing and boating communities -- Bayville on the North Shore and Freeport on the South Shore -- were among the hardest-hit.

Seawater took over the only two access roads into and out of Bayville, cutting the village in two, while the spill from an explosive storm surge came through streets and formed an ersatz moat around some Freeport neighborhoods.

Twelve-foot waves buffeted sea walls and rushed up between houses in Bayville Monday morning as Mayor Douglas Watson surveyed the village, dismayed at the reports of expected 6- to 11-foot storm surges.

"I hope they're wrong on their math," Watson said before the worst of the storm hit. "I don't need historic flooding."

But by midday Monday, a deep puddle on Bayville Avenue that spanned six blocks, in addition to the flooded access roads, snarled travel for emergency first responders patrolling the area and blocked residents from reaching the nearest shelter, in Locust Valley.

The puddle had abated temporarily by late afternoon, but access to and from the village was reduced to one lane on Bayville Avenue, and the entire village was without power.

Joe Intintoli, who lives on the bay side of the peninsula on Washington Avenue, installed a barrier of inflated plastic and aluminum sheeting to try to keep floodwaters out of his attached garage.

"It worked pretty good," Intintoli said. "I just have to fine-tune it."

His neighbor, 49-year Bayville resident Dennis Finn, waxed philosophical about life on the water.

"You have to take the good with the bad," Finn said. "I bought a pair of waders so I can get out of town."

Just then, Eric Stein, 25, of Oyster Bay, walked down Washington Avenue with four buddies, all wearing wet suits and toting recently used surfboards. For them, Sandy was a taste of rare surf.

"The Sound looks like the ocean," Stein said. "It's my first time surfing in the Sound. And hopefully it won't be my last."

To the south, almost all of Freeport's streets were flooded below Merrick Road, rendered impassable by water that rose nearly to the middle of fire hydrants. The village had been hit by 31/2 feet of storm surge, with much worse flooding expected by Monday evening.

A National Weather Service advisory issued at 4 p.m. said flooding in Freeport was expected to be "major" with a high tide at 8:58 p.m.

The flooding sparked numerous phone calls from residents trapped in their homes, said Rich Holdener, the village's emergency operations manager.

"We've been inundated with water all day," he said. "We're expecting monumental flooding."

But some residents took the waters in stride Monday. Troy Sop paddled down a street in a rowboat near Guy Lombardo and Atlantic avenues, while Linda McAndrews walked her dog Akira in water that almost reached his belly.

"My house was built in 1893," McAndrews said. "It has never flooded."

If water wasn't enough, Freeport had to contend with fire as well. The village fire department battled at least five house fires while navigating flooded streets. Two firefighters were injured, including one who was hurt when a resident jumped from a fence while escaping a fire and landed on him.

With Jennifer Barrios

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