05/17/13 5:00pm
05/17/2013 5:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Sandy-damaged white pine trees on Main Road in Jamesport. Experts say white pine owners should look for green growth under needles that have been turned an orange-brown or yellow color from salt exposure during the October storm.

Spring is in full bloom, and the region’s grasses and hardwoods are greening up accordingly. But some pine trees are not, and experts say it’s due to the salt carried inland during Sandy.

White pines, indigenous trees popular in landscaping across the North Fork and all Long Island, are still showing the aftereffects of October’s superstorm. For worried homeowners who fear their decorative pines might be dead, experts say most of the salt-burned trees should rebound in time.

“This is the worst I’ve seen in quite a while,” said Melissa Daniels, president of the Long Island Nursery and Landscaping Association. “It is going to be worse in areas close to the road and close to the shores.”

Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, says discoloration of the white pines’ needles is either orange-brown or yellow, depending on the amount of salt exposure.

“The fact the homeowners are observing damage far away from any body of water is not surprising,” Mr. Amper said. “Salt spray can be carried way inland by high winds.”

The further your pine is from the coast, the more yellow, rather than brown, the needles will appear, he said.

Ms. Daniels said this winter’s blizzards didn’t help the pines, either.

“They were using more salt than they normally would on the roads, and that splashes tree bottoms,” she said.

Some smaller shrubs, such as arborvitae, rhododendrons and mountain laurel, were also affected by the salt spray, Ms. Daniels said.

“We didn’t have a lot of rain with the storm, which would have washed it out,” she said. “You really had to have watered them after the storm.”

If white pines are displaying the brown or yellow burning effect, there isn’t anything for landowners to do but wait, the experts say.

“My short advice: Be patient,” Mr. Amper said. “Pine trees are extremely resilient. They look a lot worse than they feel most of the time.”

Most white pines will shed half their needles this year, Mr. Amper said. “You would see the first signs that the needles are being restored next year, but the tree won’t be fully restored until the spring of 2015.”

“Wait it out until the fall and see if they send out any new growth,” Ms. Daniels suggested, before starting to dig up and discard damaged pines.

“We haven’t had to replace any yet,” said Hugo Rios Jr., landscaping manager for Hugo Rios Masonry and Landscaping in Riverhead, though Mr. Rios said many of his clients are not in immediate coastal areas.

“Some of the trees were really yellow. They dropped the needles that were yellow, and now we are starting to see some green come through,” Mr. Rios said. “They seem to be getting better.”

Mr. Amper said that if a property owner sees bark beetles in a pine tree, that’s a sign the tree has probably died, and “only then is cutting it down justified.”

There are a variety of bark beetles and other trunk-damaging pests in white pines.

“For the most part people do not see the actual insects themselves, but rather the evidence of past or current attack,” said Dan Gilrein, entomologist with Cornell Cooperative Extension. Bark beetle damage usually happens after the tree been subjected to some other stress or injury, such as salt spray or flooding, he said.

One example is the black turpentine beetle. Adult beetles are dark reddish-brown to black, and about one-third of an inch long, Mr. Gilrein said.

“One sign of attack is the resulting ‘pitch tubes’ and sap flow one sees on attacked trees,” he said. “As for the salt-damaged white pines, we suggest homeowners re-examine the trees’ growing conditions, perhaps bringing in a consulting arborist if needed, and provide the best care possible particularly during this year of recovery.”

The protected Long Island Pine Barrens areas stretching from eastern Brookhaven Town to Southampton Town are made up predominantly of pitch pine, an indigenous tree that is extremely resilient to salt spray, Mr. Amper said. The Pine Barrens lost more trees to high winds than to salt spray.

“If there is another storm, people should know to turn their sprinklers on, and water the salt out of the ground [and off the trees] if they can,” Ms. Daniels said. “If you are going to replant trees and live near a shore area, I would not recommend replacing them with a white pine.”

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05/02/13 12:00pm
05/02/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Eastern Concrete workers prepare Sandra Ciricione’s Oaks Avenue home in Flanders for a new foundation Friday.

Aquebogue resident Cecily Jaffe is finally regaining some sense of normalcy. She returned to her house three weeks ago, but is stilling trying to make it feel like home.

“I just got my bed two days ago,” she said.

Hurricane Sandy caused $100,000 worth of damage to her Harbor Road home. Floodwaters also swept away half of her belongings, including furniture, family photos and other items she said could never be replaced. Ms. Jaffe, who owns Cecily’s Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck, is now in the process of rebuilding her life in the cottage she’s called home for decades.

Like many homeowners with insurance, Ms. Jaffe did not receive federal grant money for reconstruction. She was only eligible to receive Federal Emergency Management Agency grant money for temporary housing. In the interim, Ms. Jaffe was forced to wait weeks for her insurance check, causing construction delays. She moved five times to different area hotels and apartments before work was completed on her home.

“I’m still living as if I have to move tomorrow,” she said.

North Fork Sandy victims received a low amount of federal aid in comparison to other areas in Suffolk County. According to the FEMA, 564 households in Riverhead Town received $111,000 in federal aid, for an average of $197 per affected household. In Southold Town, 451 households received $366,000 from FEMA, or $811 on average per household. In comparison, Lindenhurst’s 4,000 eligible homeowners received more than $22 million, averaging out to $5,500 per household.

In all, more than $73.5 million in FEMA funding was provided to homeowners in Suffolk County to mitigate storm damage. Less than one percent of that was awarded to the North Fork, according to FEMA figures.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe hangs a print by North Fork artist Rob White from her Love Lane Gallery in Mattituck.

FEMA aid was awarded on a case-by-case basis, said FEMA regional director for Suffolk County, John Mills. The amount awarded to individual homeowners varied according to the severity of the damage and whether the homeowner had flood insurance, he said. No aid is provided for a person’s second home.

A spokesman for Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said Mr. Bishop’s office has been inundated with calls from homeowners who have been struggling to pay household bills since Sandy, with many requesting assistance with mortgage modifications or forbearance, which is an agreement between a borrower and lender that delays foreclosure

Greenport resident Jean Eckhardt’s Pipes Cove area home needed $15,000 in repairs after wind damaged the roof and floodwaters poured into the basement.

“I was the first person in line when I heard FEMA officials were going to be at Town Hall,” she said. “They only gave me a little.”

Ms. Eckhardt, who did not have flood insurance, received $1,500 in federal aid.

Her homeowner’s insurance covered some of the expenses, but she needed to pay for the majority of the reconstruction herself, she said.

“I had to eat most of it,” Ms. Eckhardt said. “I was hoping for more, but I am grateful for what I got.”

Sandy victims now face another costly consequence of the storm. Many North Folk homeowners will need to raise their houses — or face rising flood insurance premiums.

FEMA now requires homeowners who receive federal funding to rebuild their homes in accordance to the National Flood Insurance Program.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cecily Jaffe moved back to her Sandy-ravaged Aquebogue home just two weeks ago.

“There are so many laws coming out that people are not being made aware of,” said Flanders resident Dhonna Goodale.

Ms. Goodale, her husband and two young children were displaced for three months after the storm. The family received no FEMA assistance, footing the bill for home repairs before finally receiving an insurance check six weeks ago, she said.

“There were fish swimming in our basement,” she said of the family’s experience during Sandy. “Now, during high tide the water floods our driveway.”

The Goodales are now wondering what to do next at the 135-acre estate.

“Should we raise the house? Should we move it? We don’t have a clue what do right now,” she said. “We need answers [from the federal government].”

Flanders resident Sandra Cirincione is in the process of raising her house in the Bayview Pines neighborhood without any FEMA assistance.

Seven inches of floodwater poured into her first floor during Sandy, she said.

“No one told me I needed to raise my home,” Ms. Cirincione said. “I decided to do it anyway. I never want to go through this again. You learn a few things when things like this happen.”

Flood insurance covered much of her home’s interior reconstruction, but that work has come to a halt until the raising work is completed.

She’s living at a friend’s house in Westhampton and hoping to return to Flanders by mid-summer.

Mr. Bishop’s office is working to inform homeowners about programs available for raising their homes. The office has a full-time caseworker to help those affected by Sandy to access relief and benefits. Anyone in need of such assistance can call (631) 289-6500.

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03/01/13 8:00am
03/01/2013 8:00 AM
EPCAL Cars Sandy in Calverton


A 40-year-old South Carolina man transporting Sandy-damaged cars from the Enterprise Park at Calverton to Detroit was arrested Thursday after cops found him in possession of a loaded 9-mm handgun, Suffolk County police said.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy damaged cars parked on the grasslands at EPCAL.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy damaged cars parked on the grasslands at EPCAL.

Freddie Foggie Jr. of Boiling Springs, S.C. was also driving on a suspended license at the time, police said.

The arrest comes about seven months after Mr. Foggie was charged in a fatal accident in North Carolina that killed a 72-year-old Florida man who was a prominent developer, according to charlotteobserver.com.

In that case, two cars being hauled by Mr. Foggie somehow came loose, fell off the truck and struck cars that were traveling behind, the Observer reports, citing a crash report.

News reports and court records show he’s due back in a North Carolina court March 7 for misdemeanor charges.

On Thursday, Mr. Foggie was stopped along the Long Island Expressway in Islandia, near the Exit 58 Park and Ride, about 5:50 p.m. when Suffolk County police officer Robert Copozzi noticed equipment violations on a Chevy pickup truck, which had a trailer hauling three cars, police said.

During a routine safety inspection, Officer Copozzi noticed the handgun, which was loaded with a high-capacity magazine, and arrested Mr. Foggie, also issuing him nine tickets for a score of safety violations.

The truck, owned by JK Trucking and Auto Sales in Mississippi, was taking the vehicles from a Sandy-damaged car storage site at the enterprise park and taking them to Michigan, Suffolk Police said.

Mr. Foggie is facing a third-degree criminal possession of a weapons charge and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, police said.

He was scheduled to appear in First District Court in Central Islip Friday, officials said.

There are three sites at the EPCAL property — a former Grumman Corporation fighter jet testing facility — at which thousands of storm-damaged cars are being stored. Two are through agreements with Riverhead Town to store cars on town-owned runways at the property.

A third storage site is on grass on private property, at which the DEC has ordered the cars be removed over environmental concerns.

Those cars have not been removed, said Supervisor Sean Walter.

“They are [still] being stored illegally,” Mr. Walter said of the cars on private property, owned by Jan Burman.

“The DEC has ordered Burman to remove the cars, so hopefully the DEC will be victorious in getting these cars out of there,” he said. “He’s going to have to remediate that entire site, from what I understand, because it is one of those grassland areas that are supposed to be protected.

“So I don’t know how much that’s going to cost him.”

Mr. Burman could not be immediately reached for comment.

“There’s going to be a lot of this,” Mr. Walter continued about storm-damaged cars being sold off at out-of-state dealers. “There’s no possible way I’m buying a used car right now. These titles are going to wind up in other states, with their titles washed away.They’ll end up overseas and in Mexico.”

As for some the drivers leaving the sites, Mr. Walter also said many of them are taking to side roads in violation of weight limits.

“We’ve been all over these drivers; these 3/4-ton pickup trucks with the trailer are over our weight restrictions for a part of River Road, Wading River Manor Road,” Mr. Walter said.

“They’re writing tickets,” he said of town police efforts to curb the activity.

Read more about the cars at EPCAL

01/19/13 9:00am
01/19/2013 9:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO  |  A giant pile of superstorm Sandy debris has sat in front of Sheila Ganetis' Morningside Avenue home in Jamesport for almost two months. Town officials say she'll need to pay to get the junk removed.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A giant pile of superstorm Sandy debris has sat in front of Sheila Ganetis’ Morningside Avenue home in Jamesport for almost two months. Town officials say she’ll need to pay to get the junk removed.

Fence slats, wood pilings, tree trunks, even pieces of staircases.

Superstorm Sandy dumped a lot of debris at Sheila Ganetis’ Jamesport property — and at her mother’s house next door.

When volunteers later came to help with cleanup, much of the wreckage was piled in front of her Morningside Avenue home, waiting for road crews to remove it.

But there it has stayed.

And unfortunately for Ms. Ganetis, it now appears she’s stuck with it.

Riverhead Town’s highway department will take away only wood and brush left at curbs, not construction debris such as that outside Ms. Ganetis’ house, town highway officials said. As for the brush and cut-up tree pieces that are also in the pile, Ms. Ganetis said highway crews have told her they will only pick up brush that’s in a separate pile and not mixed in with other storm debris.

“The highway department rep who answered the phone [last Monday] told me that they were only taking vegetation now and that if there was one stick of non-vegetation, they wouldn’t take anything,” Ms. Ganetis said.

“I started crying on the phone.”

Town sanitation superintendent John Reeve said Ms. Ganetis will have to rent a dumpster and hire a private company to haul the storm debris away, adding that had his department known about the huge pile sooner, he might have been able to get removal paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“On Pye Lane in South Jamesport, they had massive piles of big stuff; they must have gotten everything in the bay washed up on their yards,” Mr. Reeve said, referring to the street adjacent to the town’s South Jamesport Beach.

Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, who is also the town’s emergency management coordinator, took FEMA officials down to Pye Lane and FEMA agreed to pay for disposal of the debris. About six 30-yard rolloff containers of debris were taken from that area, the chief said, adding that storm debris collected at the western end of Peconic Bay Boulevard also qualified for FEMA reimbursement.

The sanitation department will accept debris that’s no longer or taller than four feet and is put by the curbside in a pile or container on the designated bulk item pickup day, Mr. Reeve said.

“But big bulky stuff has to go in a dumpster,” he said. “If these people had called earlier, or gotten the stuff out earlier, I would have made the chief aware of it and FEMA might have included that for reimbursement.”

He said the deadline for FEMA reimbursement passed on Friday.

Ms. Ganetis said volunteers from West Virginia University affiliated with North Shore Christian Church in Riverhead helped clean up her property and the immediate area and piled up the debris on the curb on Dec. 18. Three days later, a highway department truck came down her street, taking away large piles of debris from further up the road. The crews never made it as far as her property. She had assumed at the time that they were coming back.

Mr. Reeve said that Ms. Ganetis’ situation is unique.

“Right now, everything is pretty much cleaned up,” he said.

While Ms. Ganetis was talking with a reporter outside her home on Monday, a payloader, dump truck and one other highway department vehicle came down her street.

Ms. Ganetis couldn’t believe her eyes.

But then, the trucks stopped, backed up, turned around and left.

Highway Superintendent George (Gio) Woodson later said those trucks “were only going around looking for residual stuff we may have missed.”

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01/06/13 12:00pm
01/06/2013 12:00 PM
New Suffolk house doesn't have a first floor after Sandy

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Until its fate is decided by Southold Town, what’s left of this New Suffolk house will stand high and dry on wooden cribbing.

The top part of a house on Kimogenor Point in New Suffolk now standing on cribbing is all that’s left of the structure damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

There’s no word yet from the town building department on whether enough of the house remains to allow homeowners to rebuild.

The Kimogenor Point Company, which has owned the private peninsula and the houses on it since 1915, earlier in 2012 planned to raze the structure and rebuild. But its request for a variance, filed long before the storm hit, was denied at that time by the Southold Zoning Board of Appeals.

The town eventually granted permission to expand and renovate the existing house, but the project was delayed again after the homeowners learned they would need to move it from its existing foundation and place it on pilings to meet new FEMA regulations, ZBA chairwoman Leslie Weisman said this week.

Ms. Weisman said once work began to put the house on cribbing, the walls apparently fell off.

The project is currently awaiting review by the town building inspector. The town code says if it’s determined that less than 25 percent of the structure remains, it cannot be rebuilt because the original structure was non-conforming.

Chief building inspector Mike Verity could not be reached for comment.

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