Suffolk County is under a State of Emergency as Tropical Storm Hermine prepares to camp out off the South Shore of Long Island for the next few days.
County Executive Steve Bellone declared the state of emergency at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“This is a potentially dangerous storm that could produce significant flooding on Fire Island and along the South Shore,” he said at a press conference announcing the State of Emergency Saturday afternoon. “Although this storm will not hit us directly, the storm could potentially be worse in some ways. It appears the storm will sit off the coast for two to three days. As we continue to monitor the track of the storm today and into tomorrow morning, we want people to be aware of the potential for significant flooding and encourage our residents and visitors to stay tuned to updates.”
According to the National Weather Service’s 5 p.m. briefing on Saturday, Sept. 3, Hermine, then just east of Virginia, was expected to intensify to hurricane-force winds Sunday as it makes its way northward.
“A turn toward the northeast and a decrease in forward speed is expected by Sunday, followed by a slow northward to northwestward motion through Monday. On the forecast track, the center of Hermine will meander slowly offshore of the mid-Atlantic coast for the next couple of days,” according to the National Weather Service.
Suffolk County’s south shore has also been placed under a flood watch. The National Weather Service anticipates storm surges up to 3 to 5 feet along shoreline communities and emergency responders are preparing for heavy rains, strong sustained winds and beach erosion.
Suffolk County has also issued a voluntary evacuation of Fire Island by 1 p.m. Sunday to ensure the safety of all residents and visitors if conditions worsen.
Ferry service to Fire Island may be suspended during the storm. Full medical services were removed from the island Saturday, and the county is urging anyone with a medical condition to evacuate the island for their safety.
Suffolk County beaches will be closed to swimming starting Sunday for an indefinite period of time. The Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation is currently monitoring campsites.
Suffolk County is also in continuous communication with the American Red Cross. Fourteen temporary assistance shelters are available and ready to be opened on an as-needed basis.
“While there is much uncertainty in the current forecast models of Tropical Storm Hermine, it is likely that we will experience the effects of this storm in some capacity,” said Mr. Bellone. “Since this is a holiday weekend, we are asking our residents and visitors to be aware of the forecast and to use common sense throughout the weekend. We will continue to monitor the projection of the storm and keep our residents updated as necessary.”
The U.S. Coast Guard issued a Hurricane Condition Whiskey for the Port of New York at 4 p.m. Saturday, and is urging all pleasure craft to seek safe harbor. A Condition Whiskey is issued when hurricane force winds are possible within 72 hours.
The Coast Guard also rescued a kite surfer in distress off of Democrat Point on Fire Island Saturday afternoon.
“Cases like this really highlight just how dangerous it is out on the water right now,” said Capt. Andrew Tucci, commander of Sector Long Island Sound. “With the impending storm promising to make things even worse we strongly urge all boaters not to go out, especially paddle boats and other small craft.”
The video below was taken from the beach at Road K in Hampton Bays at 7:30 a.m. Sunday:
Southampton Town has also issued a warning to residents that “the recent new moon will create the potential for a 3 to 5 foot storm surge during high tide along the South Shore back bay areas. Although the storm center may pass to our south, these storm conditions and associated high winds with gusts up to 50 mph will impact our area through Tuesday, September 6. Residents and especially beach goers are encouraged to exercise extreme caution. Hazardous conditions may result in beach closures.”
Below are the times of high tide at various locations throughout the East End for the next three days:
Sunday, Sept. 4:
MTK Hbr: 11:40 a.m.
Orient: 12:18 a.m., 12:41 p.m.
Greenport: 12:46 a.m., 1:09 p.m.
Sag Hbr: 12:41 a.m., 1:04 p.m.
N. Suffolk: 2:08 a.m., 2:31 p.m.
S. Jamesport: 2:15 a.m., 2:38 p.m.
Shinn. Inlet: 9:55 a.m., 10:05 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 5:
MTK Hbr: 12:01 a.m., 12:25 p.m.
Orient: 1:02 a.m., 1:26 p.m.
Greenport: 1:30 a.m., 1:54 p.m.
Sag Hbr: 1:25 a.m., 1:49 p.m.
N. Suffolk: 2:52 a.m., 3:16 p.m.
S. Jamesport: 2:59 a.m., 3:23 p.m.
Shinn. Inlet: 10:36 a.m., 10:48 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 6:
MTK Hbr: 12:47 a.m., 1:13 p.m.
Orient: 1:48 a.m., 2:14 p.m.
Greenport: 2:16 a.m., 2:42 p.m.
Sag Hbr: 2:11 a.m., 2:37 p.m.
N. Suffolk: 3:38 a.m., 4:04 p.m.
S. Jamesport: 3:45 a.m., 4:11 p.m.
Shinn. Inlet: 11:19 a.m., 11:32 p.m.
Riverhead Town is urging residents and visitors residing in low lying flood prone coastal areas to pay close attention to forecasts and emergency announcements.
“Those residents concerned about the flooding should seek to locate with family and friends outside the flood area during this period,” according to Riverhead’s emergency press release. “We may also see downed trees and power lines and subsequent power outages if the storm comes closer to us. DO NOT GO NEAR ANY DOWNED POWER LINES. You can get electrocuted even if you do not touch the power line. Remember the “P’s” in preparedness, Plan, Pack and you must Pay Attention. This is a storm that will be with us for quite some time.”
Riverhead is urging anyone who needs more information to call the town’s emergency hotline at 631.727.3200, Ext. SOS (767).
Southold Town’s Office of Emergency Management is in the midst of making preparations for the storm, and is asking residents to tune into the town’s website, Channel 22 and local media for ongoing information throughout the storm.
The Suffolk County Police Department has 20 emergency humvees that are designed for search and rescue in the event of major street flooding, as well as two 5-ton high axle surplus trucks to handle deep water evacuations. The department will also have 79 marine bureau officers in multiple hi-tech boats patrolling the waters and coordinating rescue efforts with the United States Coast Guard if necessary. The Police Department’s aviation unit – which consists of four state-of-the-art helicopters, a team of pilots and Stony Brook University medical personnel – will also be available to assist the marine bureau.
The Suffolk County Department of Public Works has inspected and serviced heavy equipment, trucks, pumps, chainsaws, brush cutters and all powered tools that may be needed for downed tree removal, debris and flooding abatement.
The Beacon will be tweeting regular updates throughout the storm. You can follow us on Twitter here.