While Superstorm Sandy — a combination of a massive hurricane out of the south and upper level trough out of the Midwest — spared the Riverhead area its worst, houses in several coastal hamlets were damaged by wind and flood waters during the storm. And several beaches were severely eroded.
Thousands of local residents went without power for days, even over a week after Sandy, whose surge struck the region Monday, Oct. 29. Some stayed with friends and relatives. Others were forced to shelters set up in Riverhead and Southampton towns.
A subsequent gas shortage compounded the already stressful situation. Many were still without power with temperatures reaching near-freezing levels and generators running dry of precious gas.
And tensions were running high on some lines.
“People don’t know how to adapt without the luxuries they’re used to,” Calverton resident Judy Torrieri said at a Hess station line. “They’re willing to go out and get what they need and siphon out your gas. Any means necessary.”
Perhaps the lasting local image from Sandy was that of downtown Riverhead’s southern side, much of which was under water on the Monday morning before the storm’s full brunt was even close to being felt. Features of downtown’s Grangebel Park, like railings and foot bridges, became indiscernible as the tides rose to record levels and a gazebo in the riverfront park to the east was lifted up and deposited elsewhere in the park.
Upon realizing that points to the west and south of Long Island suffered much more damage, our communities, led by our fire departments, rallied by collecting goods and money to be distributed in Mastic, Shirley and other places.
Many in Wading River, Aquebogue, Jamesport and Flanders said they’d never seen the bay or Sound waters so high.
Linda Heller, who’s lived on Creek Road in Wading River for 16 years, returned home to discover that so much land had been wiped away behind her home, almost the entire cesspool was exposed, she told the News-Review that week.
“I was very surprised to say the least,” she said. “You don’t expect to see your cesspool.”