09/06/18 6:00am
09/06/2018 6:00 AM

The night Superstorm Sandy hit Long Island in October 2012, Jim and Peggy LoScalzo watched the storm that left much of the South Shore flooded and damaged and thousands without power move across Long Island Sound.

The sky became very still as the storm passed over them. All of a sudden, they saw water rushing towards them and ran for cover deeper in their house that sits on the end of Creek Road in Wading River. READ

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10/27/17 5:55am
10/27/2017 5:55 AM

Cecily Jaffe was living in a cottage on Harbor Road in Aquebogue, a mere 200 feet from Peconic Bay, when Superstorm Sandy hit on Oct. 29, 2012 — and struck hard.

She had renovated the old home gradually over several years since moving there in 1999, fixing up a bathroom, taking out a wall and redesigning her kitchen.

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Featured Story
01/15/17 6:00am
01/15/2017 6:00 AM

Pine Avenue

After Superstorm Sandy flooded and destroyed numerous houses in the Bay View Pines and Waters Edge communities in Flanders, the state launched a program to purchase those properties with the goal of leaving them undeveloped and uninhabited, hoping to ensure area homeowners would never again be affected by a similar disaster.

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10/29/13 7:00am
10/29/2013 7:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO

One year ago, Superstorm Sandy touched down in Riverhead, bringing with her a wrath – or more precisely, a combination of tidal surge, winds and rain – unseen by most in the area.

A full year later, the Town of Riverhead is still owed $750,000 in federal funding to help reimburse the cost borne by the storm.

This timeline takes a look back at some parts of the chaotic week that hit the area.

Paul Squire contributed to this project.

10/29/13 7:00am
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The gazebo by the Peconic River flipped over in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The gazebo by the Peconic River flipped over in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Nearly a year after superstorm Sandy swept across the North Fork, knocking down trees, taking out power lines and flooding downtown Riverhead under several feet of storm surge, Riverhead Town is still waiting on about $750,000 in federal reimbursement funds it requested to cover related repair costs.

“We have received money, but not the lion’s share,” said Police Chief David Hegermiller, the town’s liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Chief Hegermiller said the town applied for more than $1 million in funding from FEMA to pay for repairs and minor improvements to mitigate future storm damage. But as of last week, the town has received only about 25 percent of those reimbursement funds.

Related: Timeline breaks down Sandy’s arrival to the Riverhead area

Until a couple of months ago, he said, the town hadn’t received any funding from FEMA.

Chief Hegermiller believes the sheer amount of damage caused by Sandy across the U.S. is partially to blame for the delay in getting FEMA funding approval.

“This was just a major storm,” he said. “The paperwork is just drowning them.”

The complexity of the FEMA funding approval process may also be contributing to the delay. Municipalities that apply for FEMA relief don’t receive the funds directly from FEMA, but through the New York State Office of Emergency Management — to which FEMA gives the money. Applicants have to file project worksheets — detailed folders describing the exact cost and reason for the request — with state officials, who review the project worksheets themselves before sending them on to FEMA for a second review.

Click here to read our past Superstorm Sandy coverage.

Often, the state will return a worksheet asking for clarifications.

“I don’t want to tell you how many times I went down to Iron Pier to look at the concrete that was out of kilter,” Chief Hegermiller said. “All that stuff takes time.”

The town has completed most of the 20 project worksheets it plans to fi le with FEMA. Consultants from the state are now working in the police department basement to review the final worksheets for approval, town offi cials said.    “We’re not the only ones in this position,” said town fi nancial administrator Bill Rothaar.

Most of the money used during Sandy cleanup came from budget lines set up for employee overtime and contingencies, meaning no money was taken from the general fund in 2012, he said.

But “a couple” of Sandy-related problems that cropped up this year had to be paid for using general funds because FEMA approval was taking too long, Mr. Rothaar said.

“We weren’t getting approvals and the board was making decisions that this needed to be done,” he said.

The delays, in turn, have also slowed down other town functions and departments. The town’s audit, for example, could have been fi nished about a month earlier had the FEMA funding been in the town’s coffers.

The town has also applied for several state hazard mitigation project grants to help bolster the its defenses against future disasters, Chief Hegermiller said.

One of those applications would secure $6.5 million to prevent storm-water from getting into the town’s sewer system, while another roughly $8.5 million proposal would move the sewer district’s Defriest pump station downtown to elevate it out of the fl ood plain, he said.

Another proposal asks for $350,000 to pay for a new generator. But Chief Hegermiller thinks the grants will become “very competitive.” Only $200 million has been made available for the mitigation grants across the entire state.

“This isn’t a slam dunk,” he said. “There’s a lot of hurdles to go through.”

Meanwhile, town officials say that a plan to install a series of plastic walls to prevent storm surges from flooding downtown is still in the planning phases.

A Utah-based company presented the “Muscle Wall” to Town Board members in April. The 6-by-4-foot sections of plastic wall would be placed together to keep floodwaters from reaching downtown’s businesses, as occurred during Sandy.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the town will seek federal and county grant money to pay for the walls.

“We don’t have any money to buy it right now but I was hoping to use the hazard mitigation money FEMA and the county were putting on the table,” Ms. Giglio said.

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09/21/13 7:58am
09/21/2013 7:58 AM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Pieceful Quilting owner Angie Veeck behind the counter of her new shop at Calverton Commons.

Just days after flooding from superstorm Sandy left her downtown Riverhead shop in ruins, Pieceful Quilting owner Angela Veeck had made up her mind.

She would head north, away from the Peconic River.

Specifically, Ms. Veeck looked to move her store to a then-empty 2,400-square-foot space in Calverton Commons on Sound Avenue.

“I am a very happy camper because every cloud has a silver lining,” Ms. Veeck said last week, when asked to describe her rebuilt life and livelihood a year after Sandy. “My new store is much nicer and, most important, it is dry.”

Special Report: Remembering the L.I. Express hurricane of 1938

That’s a significant change from last November, when Ms. Veeck’s ordeal was featured on the front page of the Riverhead News-Review.

It was about 11 months ago that Pieceful Quilting, which had been located at the southern corner of downtown Riverhead’s McDermott Avenue for 30 years, was effectively destroyed when floodwaters from Sandy reached heights of two feet and hung around the shop for 36 hours, causing black mold to grow throughout the rented space. A few employees salvaged what they could from the store.

Pieceful Quilting wasn’t the only downtown shop affected by the storm. Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District said his East Main Street store, Robert James Salon, was closed for a month after Sandy. And the Serpentine Museum, which was slated to debut this year at the site of the former Dinosaur Walk Museum, still hasn’t opened thanks to storm damage.

The museunm’s owners “had to put on a new roof,” Mr. Pickersgill said.

Ms. Veeck said last year that her flood and business insurance would not cover her damage-related expenses. Last week, she said her insurance company eventually did compensate her for about 60 percent of losses, but only for the store’s contents.

“Insurance companies are not in the business of giving out money,” she said. “They’re in the business of collecting money.”

Ms. Veeck said she was able to use some of the insurance money to purchase inventory for her new shop, which sells quilting supplies and material, but said her insurer didn’t cover the cost of moving Pieceful Quilting to Calverton.

“It was a very big expense to move into a new space and have to totally put together a new store,” she said.

“We were sad that [Pieceful Quilting] had to leave,” Mr. Pickersgill said. “Unfortunately, she didn’t have an alternative at the time, but I hope she’s doing well in her location. She contributed a lot to Main Street. Her store was very popular.”

It took Ms. Veeck just six weeks to get fully moved into the new storefront, which is located in the same plaza as Mema’s Pizza, just west of Bean & Bagel Cafe — a feat she attributes to her husband, Ken — “He’s a keeper,” she said — and her employees.

“I couldn’t have done it without my staff,” she said.

Ms. Veeck’s neighbor, Stella Johnson, also helped move contents salvaged from the Riverhead store to a trailer last November so they could be moved to the new shop.

And although it’s smaller than her old Riverhead shop, Ms. Veeck said her new Calverton location features a bright, open layout that gives the illusion of size. Business is good, she said, but she won’t know the full extent of Pieceful Quilting’s losses until sometime in November, when she can better tally year-to-year numbers.

“It will be two months before I know exactly what the implications were in terms of losses and customers,” she said. “It’s too early to tell, but I would say that we’re doing okay.”

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