Residents woke up Thursday to flooding, downed trees and delayed air flights in the aftermath of Wednesday's high winds and heavy rain. Credit: Newsday

A powerful storm brought down trees and live wires across Long Island Wednesday, leaving thousands of customers in the dark and eroding several popular beaches that are now closed to the public.

From downtown Port Jefferson to busy roads in Long Beach, residents experienced minor coastal flooding Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service and local authorities.

The highest rain total in Suffolk County was reported in Orient, where 3.74 inches had fallen by 9 a.m. Thursday. In Nassau County, Seaford saw 3.16 inches of rain by 7 a.m. Thursday, the weather service said.

Beach erosion appears to be the main concern in the storm's aftermath, the latest in a series of such storms that have damaged Long Island's coastline.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said the storm caused significant damage at Tobay Beach, exceeding even Superstorm Sandy  as the rain washed away large dunes protecting Ocean Parkway, leaving the critical artery in jeopardy.

Normally, the view to the water from Ocean Parkway is obscured by dunes, he said, but “now you can see directly to the ocean.”

The town doesn't have the resources to rebuild the beach and is asking federal agencies to intervene, officials said.

George Gorman, Long Island regional director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said Orient Beach State Park suffered major erosion along the roadway and sustained parkwide flooding.

Meanwhile, 50,000 cubic yards of sand that were recently added to stabilize the entrance of Gilgo State Park “accomplished what it was designed to do,” although there was still erosion along the beachfront area, Gorman said.

Both parks are temporarily closed as state officials assess the damage, he said.

Fire Island, which has been devastated by a series of winter storms that washed away dunes and eroded the coastline, largely escaped major damage during Wednesday's storm, according to local leaders.

Nassau and Suffolk police said they responded to downed trees and wires due to heavy wind gusts in several areas including Riverhead, Amityville and Glen Head.

The highest wind speeds were 45 mph in Blue Point and 44 mph in Bayville, the weather service said.

And while more than 4,600 PSEG Long Island customers were without power around 11 p.m. Wednesday, that figure was down to 356 customers just after 6 p.m. Thursday.

“We expect the majority of remaining customers affected by the storm will be restored today,” the utility said in a statement.

After scattered showers and a possible wintry mix overnight Thursday, Friday is expected to be sunny with a high of 50, the weather service said. 

With Joseph Ostapiuk


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