Early on Jan. 10, a nor’easter brought in severe rain and strong winds, causing major flooding. Since then, Brookhaven Town supervisor Daniel J. Panico declared a state of emergency effective as of 8 a.m. Suffolk County executive Ed Romaine also declared a state of emergency.
South Shore communities were hit especially hard, including Mastic Beach. According to Panico, Mastic Beach was the area on the mainland that sustained the most flooding.
According to Mastic Beach Fire Department commissioner chair Bill Biondi, they responded to about 20 to 30 calls, which started coming in around 3:30 a.m., with the greatest number of calls by 8 a.m. due to the high tide.
At that time, he said, they called in mutual aid from the Brookhaven Town Fire Marshals with their high-water rescue truck; Suffolk County FRES with their water rescue truck; as well as Bellport, Mastic, and Manorville fire departments.
Majority of the calls, he said, were due to flooding and transporting residents from their homes to other areas. However, other calls came in due to oil burners being flooded out, causing smoke. They also helped assist Suffolk County police.
“We help everybody out,” he said, proud of the smooth work done by the fire department and the mutual aid. “We were prepared.”
No one was reported injured.
The tide and winds started to die down by 11 a.m. The water was up at about 4 feet with the high tide and has since receded to about a foot and a half. Flooding was particularly severe on Grandview Drive and Pine Tree Drive, as well as near Section 1 Marina and from Elder Drive south, and the Pattersquash Creek area, he said.
“Some of the flood was worse than what we saw during Sandy,” he said, also noting there was a full moon and the tide causing the conditions.
As for mitigation, Panico said, he would like to see greater buffers as well as continued efforts to raise homes.
“I stand ready to assists all our Brookhaven communities to the best of our abilities during unfortunate events like this,” Panico said. “We need continued efforts in the area with regard to buffering near the bay.”
Panico said he was encouraged to see Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recent State of the State address to include the Blue Buffers initiative. The program is a voluntary buyout program give New Yorkers the option and means to relocate to safer areas, which then allows those properties to be used for natural flood control.
“Many people in Mastic Beach would benefit from that program,” he said.
However, he said, he would also like to see the Army Corps of Engineers continue their FIMP, Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point project, to help additional homeowners raise their homes. Mastic Beach, he said, at one point was considered as the pilot for that program.
NYS Sen. Dean Murray said he toured the Mastic Beach area as well as the Patchogue, East Patchogue, and Bellport areas to help assess the damage. He said he was writing to the governor to urge her to declare a state of emergency with the state, so that those areas can begin to seek FEMA funding. However, nothing was issued due to damages not meeting a certain threshold.
“It is now the responsibility of all levels of government to work together and explore new and innovative ideas on how to protect our communities from this ongoing problem,” added Mazzarella.
He suggested initiatives to explore, such as living shorelines, coastal retreat, and significant investments in infrastructure.
“Every storm seems to get worse and worse,” neighboring Patchogue Village mayor Paul Pontieri said, noting that some south Patchogue homes have been raised.
Pontieri also declared a state of emergency within the village. According to Pontieri, Patchogue Village saw flooding up to Harrison Street. The new living shoreline, he added, while not preventing flooding, has helped it recede, giving the water somewhere to go.
Bellport Fire Department responded to one call in the morning and provided mutual aid to Mastic Beach.
Residents should call 451-TOWN to report storm-related issues. Call 911 for police, fire and ambulance emergencies only. To report a power outage or downed wires, call PSEG at 800-490-0075 or go to www.psegliny.com to file a report online.