10/30/12 3:08pm
10/30/2012 3:08 PM
Hurricane Sandy, Aquebogue, Jamesport

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Erosion and downed trees at the end of Pine Avenue in Aquebogue, where residents say waters rose higher than in recent memory.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Tuesday he wants to suspend building fees for any storm-related repair work.

The town was in the process of devising a method by which to notify homeowners of this policy.

“I want to get that word out to residents, that the building department is not your obstacle and we will do whatever we can to help you,” Mr. Walter said.

The supervisor met with department heads Tuesday afternoon in Riverhead Town Hall to assess the damage from the storm and devise a plan to handle it.

The town is doing an inventory of damages to town property in hopes of being reimbursed.

The storm left the entire Riverfront parking lot in downtown Riverhead under  water Monday afternoon and night, and had areas in South Jamesport under water up to the railroad bridge, said Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller.

The chief said most of the areas south of Peconic Bay Boulevard were flooded.

The high waters had receded in most areas by Tuesday morning, although some areas, like parts of Peconic Bay Boulevard, still were flooded the following day.

Sandy also left more than 11,000 Riverhead Town residents and more than 940,000 Suffolk County residents without power Tuesday.

Winds from Sandy, which reached 90 mph in some areas, also broke the locally famous Riverhead Raceway Indian statue in half.

Despite this, officials says Sandy didn’t turn out as bad as they anticipated.

“We’re in better shape than we were with Hurricane Irene,” Chief Hegermiller said, referring to the hurricane that struck Long Island last year.

He said the impact of the Sandy was more flood-related than wind-related.

In Wading River, “90 percent of the homes on Creek Road were underwater” and there was erosion to beaches and bluffs along the Long Island Sound, including two homes on Lewin Drive that lost about 20 feet of bluff, and are now only about 20 feet from the bluff, said Mr. Walter, a Wading River resident.

A shelter set up at Riverhead High School had 375 people in it at the height of the storm on Monday, but by Tuesday morning, there were less than 20, officials said.

The town senior center made 2,100 meals in 36 hours for the people in the shelter, Mr. Walter said.

“The senior center was amazing,” he said Tuesday, adding the ttown hopes to get everybody out of the shelter on Tuesday so school can open on Wednesday.

The Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals also operated a pet shelter at Suffolk Community College in Northampton which had about 19 animals and 44 pet owners staying there, officials said.

The American Red Cross, which ran the shelter during Hurricane Irene last year, brought mostly snacks this year, and it was their cots and equipment that was used at the shelter.

Originally, Riverhead High School was not planned to be a shelter for this storm.

Riverhead Beverage donated 40 cases of water, and Paster Jerry Halpin of North Shore Christian Church on Kroemer Avenue brought volunteers and additional food, Mr. Walter said.

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance was busy with calls and with helping out at the evacuation center, and the Riverhead Fire Department also was kept busy with calls, including one in which their brush truck got stuck while answering a call on Overlook Drive in Aquebogue, officials said.

“Where we we be without these volunteers?” Councilman John Dunleavy asked.

Mr. Dunleavy also expressed disappointment with people who didn’t heed evacuation notices who could have jeopardized the safety of volunteers who had to come rescue them later.

“These people don’t realize they’re putting volunteers at risk,” Mr. Dunleavy said.

One man reportedly tried to climb a tree to remove a downed wire from it, and others were seen walking in water near Iron Pier beach while power lines swayed above them in high winds, officials said.

“If those lines came down, they were sardines,” said town engineer Ken Testa, who witnessed the incident.

Mr. Walter said a driver on Iron Pier beach got stuck on a log in mud there, when a good Samaritan stopped to help him.

Once the driver got traction, “the moron in the truck” floored his gas pedal in reverse, and nearly ran over the man who helped him, he said.

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10/30/12 5:40am

Scroll through our 24/7 storm live blog for more hurricane photos.

The Riverhead News-Review will be publishing photos as Hurricane Sandy makes its way to the North Fork. Check back frequently over the next few days and feel free to share your photos, too.

Click here to submit a photo for publication

Aquebogue, Hurricane Sandy, Long Island

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Roof shingles missing from an Aquebogue house.

Sandy, Superstorm, Jamesport

NEWS-REVIEW READER PHOTO | Willow Avenue in S. Jamesport Tuesday.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A tree on Flanders Road near Birch Creek.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | South end of County Road 105.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverside McDonald’s parking lot.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Riverside traffic circle Monday afternoon.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | State police now sending traffic into opposite lane, because north part is underwater at Riverside traffic circle.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A tree down on Evergreen Road in Flanders.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Priscilla Avenue in Flanders near Iron Point.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Long Island Sound at Wading River Beach Monday morning around 10 a.m.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | A man takes in the view of Long Island Sound.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Long Island Sound looked more like the ocean Monday morning.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Water floods close to a home in Wading River.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Flooding in Wading River.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bay Avenue in Flanders.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Strongs Marina in Flanders.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A view of Summerwind in downtown Riverhead.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverfront and Riverfront parking lot, one and the same.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Waterfront (and back) dining at Riverside McDonalds.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter checks out the scene in downtown Riverhead Monday morning.

RICH BURNS PHOTO | Flooding along the Peconic Riverfront Monday morning around 10:45 a.m.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Twin Fork Bicycles in downtown Riverhead being boarded up Monday morning.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | A lone car is swallowed up in downtown Riverhead Monday morning as the Peconic River floods.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Flooding in downtown Riverhead Monday morning.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Flooding in downtown Riverhead.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Flooding Monday morning around East End Arts in downtown Riverhead.

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Police blocked off the streets leading down to the Peconic waterfront.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Strongs Marine early Monday morning.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The end of Longneck Boulevard in Flanders.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Grangebel Park during low tide at dawn.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Setting up the storm shelter in Riverhead High School Sunday.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Setting up the storm shelter in Riverhead High School Sunday.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | The line for gas at Hess in Wading River. “Flooding just after high tide on Creek Road Wading River and it hasn’t begun raining yet,” Mr. Landon reports.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The scene behind the River and Roots Community Garden just before noon Sunday

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The water along the Peconic Riverfront in downtown Riverhead has already begun to flow over the boardwalk and into the parking lot.

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | A Christian parade is still going on in the Peconic Riverfront parking lot as the water has begun to flow onto the other side of the lot.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Downtown Riverhead at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday.

10/29/12 12:12pm
10/29/2012 12:12 PM
Wading River Beach, Video, Riverhead, Hurricane Sandy, Long ISland Sound

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | A video still from Wading RIver Beach Monday.

The News-Review will be publishing videos from the Riverhead area and the rest of the North Fork during Hurricane Sandy.

Check back frequently over the next few days and feel free to email links of your videos, too, and we’ll post them here.

The winds were intense at Wading River Beach about 10:15 a.m. Friday:

Downtown Riverhead about 11 a.m. Monday:

Wading River Beach:

Founders Landing on Southold Bay:

10/28/12 4:59pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Southold Town police responded to a report of shots fired near the Empire Gas station on Main Road in Laurel Sunday afternoon.

A Mattituck man was arrested after he allegedly shot at two people near the Empire gas station on Main Road in Laurel Sunday afternoon, Southold Town police said.

Brian Rive, 38, fired a 9mm handgun at two people during a dispute near the gas station about 3:30 p.m., police said. Police responded to the scene, and located Mr. Rive, who was identified as the man with the handgun, police said. A Southold police K-9 unit searched the area and found the handgun near the scene, according to a police report.

Police obtained a search warrant for Mr. Rive’s residence and searched the dwelling. During the investigation, one of Mr. Rive’s pit bulls charged at the police dog helping to search the scene and began “viciously fighting it,” police said. Police were unable to separate the dogs and shot the pitbull, killing it, according to a police report.

After searching the home, police found evidence of guns and illegal drugs, police said.

Mr. Rive was arrested and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree criminal possession of a weapons, second-degree menacing and second-degree aggravated harassment. He was held for arraignment, police said.

The alleged shooting comes about a month after a 24-year-old Shirley man was arrested for allegedly attacking a female companion and then reaching for a responding police officer’s gun at the same Laurel gas station.

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10/28/12 11:45am

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller says coastal flooding, not rainfall, will be the larger issue today.

Check out our live blog for more recent updates


2 p.m.

Riverhead School District schools are closed for Monday, Tuesday.

1:15 p.m.

Rivehead Town officials say they have plenty of volunteers now to operate the town shelter at Riverhead High School. They do not need more volunteers.

12:45 p.m.

Tanger Outlets will be closing at 5 p.m. today.

12:20 p.m.

The Red Cross has now designated Riverhead Town as a “secondary shelter,” meaning if things get real bad the Red Cross will send resources to Riverhead.

So the town is just going to open and run the shelter itself.

“As is always the case with Riverhead, we’re going to stand together and do it,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Police Chief Hegermiller said a storm surge is predicted to reach between 6 and 11 feet, with 25-foot waves on the ocean.

“Its all being pushed up into our pocket, in the bays, in the sound,” he said. “And on top off all that we have the full moon, so there’s going to be a lot of water out there.”

Councilman George Gabrielsen said the good news is the rainfall prediction has fallen to about only five to six inches and the water table is very low. He said a pond on his property that rises with the water table is dry. That, and the ground is soft, not frozen, which helps with absorption. The big problem is coastal flooding for folks living near the Sound, bays and creeks.

Mobile home parks are not facing mandatory evacuation, but officials suggest those living in mobile homes that are not strapped down seek shelter elsewhere, with friends, family, etc. Or the town shelter.

The supervisor emphasizes the town shelter should be a last resort, especially without the help of the Red Cross.


The town will operate a shelter that will open at 4 p.m. at Riverhead High School. Call 727-4500 then press 0 for information.

Garbage pickup will not be cancelled Monday, but Supervisor Sean Walter does not expect carters to be on the roads. He’s asking residents to not leave their cans outside.

Residents in need of transportation to the shelter at Riverhead High School can call 727-4500 and press 0.

Chief David Hegermiller says coastal flooding, not rainfall, is expected to be the big problem.

11:45 a.m.

Mandatory evacuations will be ordered for low-lying coastal areas in Riverhead Town about 4 p.m. Sunday, when Riverhead High School will open up as a shelter. These areas include Creek Road in Wading River, areas south of Peconic Bay Boulevard from Jamesport through Aquebogue, and other areas, such as along the Sound in Baiting Hollow.

The town will not be issuing a map.

“People who live in these coastal flood areas know who they are,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

As of now, the town said it will be opening up the shelter and operating it without the support of the American Red Cross.

Mr. Walter said he wanted to make it clear that the school will be the only shelter open and that residents should not show up at the medical center, fire stations, senior or community centers.

The police department will be issuing a ‘reverse 911’ phone call to residents in the mandatory evacuation areas. Police Chief David Hegermiller says the system is called ‘Code Red,’ but Mr. Walter emphasizes that the system is not perfect, so that doesn’t mean you don’t have to leave if you don’t get a call.

“For residents who live in a coastal flood zone, they know who they are,” he said.

School and town officials said all Riverhead schools will “likely close” tomorrow.

Mr. Walter said Town Hall will likely be open Monday, but will close at noon.


As of now, Riverhead High School is not designated as an American Red Cross shelter for Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to bring eight-foot high storm surges on Long Island Sound and sustained winds of between 40 and 60 mph with gusts of up to 80 mph on Monday, according to Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller.

With Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, the chief briefed local emergency service providers on the storm during a meeting in Town Hall Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Walter said he believes the Riverhead shelter may be needed, and the town will make a decision by 11 a.m. on Sunday as to whether it will request the Red Cross operate a shelter at Riverhead High School, as it did during Hurricane Irene last year.

The Red Cross designated Hampton Bays High School, Eastport-South Manor High School and high schools in the Brentwood and Sachem districts as shelters for Sandy, which some are calling “Frankenstorm.”

“I’m more pro-opening of Riverhead High School as a shelter,” Mr. Walter said. “We’re not sure where this storm is going, it could just be a low level tropical storm. But relying on Hampton Bays as a shelter is not making me confident.”

Town officials are concerned that people who need shelter may start showing up at the high school anyway, just assuming it’s a shelter.

Mr. Walter said it would be a town option to open the Riverhead High School as a shelter, but that the Red Cross has said it believes it can handle evacuees from Riverhead in the Hampton Bays and Eastport-South Manor shelters.

According to Chief Hegermiller, the Red Cross is part of the town’s emergency plan and they would have to operate the Riverhead shelter if the town requests it.

Mr. Walter said he is “really concerned” about relying on the out-of-town shelters to serve Riverhead residents.

Riverhead High School is designated in the Red Cross’s the second round of shelters, according to Riverhead school superintendent Nancy Carney.

According to the National Weather Service, “The center of Hurricane Sandy will move parallel to the southeast coast of the United States through the weekend. Sandy is a very large tropical cyclone with tropical storm force winds extending outward up to 450 miles. The latest forecast indicates a turn to the northwest by early next week, with direct impacts expected for the Mid-Atlantic and/or Northeast United States.”

For the East End, the NWS predicts heavy rain and high winds by Monday, and possibly starting Sunday night. The heavy rains and high winds are predicted to extend into Tuesday, with lighter rain and less wind possible Wednesday.

Officials say the brunt of the storm is expected on Monday and Tuesday.

“LIPA urges customers to prepare for possible multi-day outages,” the Long Island Power Authority said in a press release. “Storm safety tips, power outage information, and preparedness tips are available for our customers at http://www.lipower.org/stormcenter.”

As for evacuations, Mr. Walter said he is leaning toward issuing the same evacuation notice that was issued during Irene, which would require mandatory evacuations for all people living in mobile homes that are not strapped down, and non-mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas that could become flooded, such as Creek Road in Wading River.

“Most of the people in low-lying areas know when to get out,” Mr. Walter said.

While it’s not mandatory to evacuate low-lying areas, Chief Hegermiller recommends it.

“People in low lying areas should leave by tomorrow before darkness,” he said. “Go stay with family or friends.”

In Irene, Peconic Bay Medical Center also provided nursing services at the Riverhead High School shelter.

Hospital President and CEO Andrew Mitchell said the facility probably could not do that at a Hampton Bays or Eastport-South Manor shelter. He said the hospital already has many patients and has a limited capacity to take in more.

The hospitalput extra generators in place to prepare for the storm, he said.

Suffolk County announced Saturday that the Hampton Bays, Sachem East (Farmingville) and Brentwood High Schools would open as shelters at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and that Suffolk Community College’s Eastern Campus in Northampton, along with the Brentwood Rec Center on Third Avenue in Brentwood, will open as pet friendly shelters at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

10/28/12 7:57am

PETER BOODY FILE PHOTO | A LIPA crew at workng to fix an outage following Tropical Storm Irene last year.

The Long Island Power Authority said it is prepared for the damage expected when Long Island feels the worst impacts of Hurricane Sandy but residents should plan for power outages that could last from 7 to 10 days, according to a press release issued Saturday.

Storm safety tips, power outage information, preparedness tip, an informational video and guidance on LIPA and National Grid’s approach to storm restoration can be viewed on the LIPA storm center page.

The utility is encouraging its customers to pre-register their cell phones to report outages and receive restoration updates via text. To register, text REG to 695472 (myLIPA). After registration, to report an outage please text OUT to 695472 (myLIPA).

Customers without power can also call 1-800-490-0075.

LIPA’s walk-in customer service centers will be closed Monday and Tuesday and may be closed through the end of the week. Call 1-800-490-0025 to check if a center is open.

The utility offered several tips for weathering the storm.

Never touch or go near fallen wires, even if you think they are safe. If a vehicle that comes in contact with a downed wire, stay in inside until help arrives.

Be sure to have a working, battery powered radio or TV and a good supply of fresh replacement batteries.

Have flashlights available for all family members.

If an electric pump supplies household water, fill spare food-grade containers with water for cooking and washing in anticipation of a possible power interruption.

Make sure all motor driven equipment, such as garage door openers, can be operated manually.

When using a portable generator, make sure all LIPA-powered equipment is disconnected. This will avoid severe hazards when reconnecting the power to your home or business.

Have a first aid kit at home and check its contents to make sure they are complete and up to date. If you have family members with special medical needs, such as insulin or other prescription drugs, check to make sure you have an adequate supply.

Do not use charcoal to cook indoors; deadly carbon monoxide gas can accumulate in your home.

If you have an elderly neighbor, check on his or her status. Even a quick telephone call during a storm can provide much appreciated assurance that help is nearby if needed.

Should an electric power interruption occur, all sensitive equipment, such as computers and TVs should be disconnected until service is restored.

10/27/12 8:58pm
10/27/2012 8:58 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Jeremiah Cheatom of Riverhead ran for 100 yards on 19 carries against Walt Whitman.


Preseason rankings make a difference.

With the Suffolk County Division II football playoff seedings to be decided by the end of the day, the Riverhead Blue Waves delivered a home-field clinching knockout blow to the Walt Whitman Wildcats with a 42-8 victory on Saturday afternoon at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

With the win, the top-seeded Blue Waves (6-2) have the third-best record in Division II behind West Islip (8-0) and East Islip (7-1), but secured the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Riverhead will face Walt Whitman (4-4) in the first round. Whitman finished tied in power rankings with West Babylon and received the higher seed.

Riverhead’s seniors, accompanied by their parents, were honored before the game for the hard work and effort they have put forth in their time with the program. Coach Leif Shay, in a pregame speech, urged his seniors to “play with no regrets.”

Quarterback Ryan Bitzer elaborated on it afterwards, saying: “You don’t want to go out losing. In 15 years, you want to talk about how you won your senior game.”

Bitzer made it known to potential playoff opponents that Riverhead can pass the ball with accuracy. Completing all eight of his passing attempts, he passed for 193 yards.

“I feel like I’m back to my old self,” he said. “It comes easy when everything is going right.”

Bitzer was involved in five touchdowns, including four passing. Three of those ended up in the hands of Quinn Funn, who amassed 163 yards on five catches.

“I wanted to have a breakout game because it was my senior game,” said Funn.

Funn, utilizing his juke move to full effect, made defenders look silly, scoring on touchdowns catches of 25, 34 and 50 yards. He almost had a fourth touchdown as he dove toward the end zone following a 44-yard gain that ended up being spotted at the 1 yard line.

The 50-yard touchdown catch involved some in-the-moment communication between Funn and Bitzer. On a play that was supposed to be just a simple hitch, Bitzer made a hand motion, directing Funn to go deep. Because the route sucked in the cornerback, Funn made a dart at the end zone, eventually catching a clean, spiraled pass without a defender in sight.

The offensive line allowed the Blue Waves total freedom to do what they pleased. The linemen opened up gaping holes for Jeremiah Cheatom (100 yards on 19 carries) to run through and they didn’t surrender a sack.

As much as the offense was clicking, it is hard to look past the effort made by the Blue Waves defense. In addition to leading the team with eight tackles, junior Jaron Greenidge scored a defensive touchdown. Walt Whitman halfback Nykwon Harrison had trouble securing a pitch, and before he got the bobbling under control, he was leveled by middle linebacker Mike Van Bommel and the ball popped free. Greenidge then picked up the ball before running it back 63 yards for a touchdown.

All eight of Walt Whitman’s points came in the first quarter. “It didn’t feel like they only scored eight points, they were really tough,” said Van Bommel.

The Blue Waves came out in a 5-3 defense as opposed to the standard 4-4 they usually go with. They added an extra defensive lineman and took away one linebacker in an attempt to stop the run.

“It gave us the ability to stop the dive more efficiently,” said outside linebacker Matt Hejmej.