Posted tagged ‘hurricane sandy’

Hurricane Sandy Report: Flying Point Road, Long Island Update

October 30, 2012

Flying Point Beach signpost, September 2012. Photo: Melissa Cooper

The YouTube video below was filmed yesterday, presumably in the early hours of Hurricane Sandy. It shows Flying Point Road in Water Mill, Long Island, from a vantage point very close to my family house, where my brother has weathered the storm.

Our house sits just before the curve in the road where the filmmaker’s car sits. On the near side of the curve, the bay laps the shore and there is a small stretch of land between the bay and the road to absorb its overflow. On the far side of the curve,, the bay is contained by a small retaining wall. The road is wider here, but there is no shore.

Mecox Bay, Water Mill, NY in calmer days. Photo: Melissa Cooper

This is where people park their cars on the side of the road to fish for crabs.

Crabbing in Mecox Bay in September 2012. Photo: Melissa Cooper

When we first started coming to our house in the mid-1960s (Well, it was Mr. Jennings’s house then), there was only one other house visible on the road between us and Flying Point Beach, maybe two. Today, there are many, even on the bay side. But the old farmers knew what they were doing in not building closer to the water. Yesterday, beyond this curve, the road was completely submerged as Hurricane Sandy pushed vast amounts of water from the ocean into the little skillet of Mecox Bay.

Here is a terrific photo taken a little further down the road between our house and the ocean, at approximately 11 am Monday. The roadside and retaining wall break off briefly for this little stretch of shoreline.

Photo: Austin Handler;

I believe that stretch of land and water usually looks like this. Note the fence on the right in both photos.

Crabbing on Flying Point Road in early summer 2012. Photo: Melissa Cooper

The road stretches half a mile from the curve to Flying Point Beach. Just before the road rises to the beach parking lot, it makes a sharp left and runs another half mile straight out to the beach we call “the far beach.”  This morning, the road to the beach remained under water. My brother hitched a ride to the far beach on a huge flat-bed truck that was going to check on damage; his own car would never have made it. On nearby Luther Drive, about 100 feet in from the road, he spotted a 12-foot plastic jet ski dock that belonged, my brother was informed, to people living on the far side of Mecox Bay.

At the far beach, the ocean had pushed vast amounts of water into the bay, and flooded all the way up to the road.  The beach is now completely flat, no slope at all.  My brother described lines of breaking wines reaching to the horizon. The ones breaking on shore were six or seven feet high, but the ones farthest out near the horizon rose up over the water like a house, maybe twelve or thirteen feet high. We’ve been watching the ocean in storms all our lives, but my brother says he has ever seen anything remotely like this.

I’m writing from NYC, so I don’t have any photos of my own to show the wild transformations wrought by Sandy. Instead, I’ll show you another photo of beautiful little Mecox Bay, as it often appears.

Heron at sunset in Mecox Bay, March 2012. Photo: Melissa Cooper

I hope the herons, egrets, swans, ducks and all the other birds and animals have weathered the storm safely,

Hurricane Sandy Update: NYC and Long Island

October 29, 2012

Yikes. It’s dark now on 108th Street.

Abstract New York: the view outside my window.

The wind is howling outside, sounding sometimes like a giant, ravenous beast and other times like a huge engine being revved to the limits of its capacity. Mysterious loose cables are banging around outside the windows, making me a little nervous.

But we are warm and, we presume, safe inside.

Meanwhile, one of my brothers is riding out the storm in our family house on Long Island, a scant half-mile from the ocean and directly across the road from little Mecox Bay. In calmer days, the bay looks like this.

But today my brother reported that sheet of rosy glass was more like a miniature ocean cauldron of seething foam.

He also said that six to seven foot waves were breaking on the beach, that the ocean was pushing a powerful river of water into the bay,  and that the road to the ocean was under two feet of water.  This was hours and hours ago.

Browsing storm coverage on the web, we discovered photos, taken this morning, that looked familiar. We realized they are photos of our bay and our road, plastered all over the web! I know I shouldn’t use these without permission, but hey, it’s my road, and I can’t resist.

I can’t find attribution for this photograph, although I believe it, like the subsequent ones, from Reuters.  Click to go to Boston Globe, where I found it.

Here’s another photo of the same stretch of road, also from many hours ago.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

I don’t know which beach the photo below is, but my brother described the same scene of destroyed dune fencing all over Flying Point Beach and the beach we call “the far beach.”

Southampton area beach. Photo: Reuters

Later in the day, my intrepid brother drove to the Shinnecock Canal. On the way, he saw a red fox, and on the way back, he spotted another. He described the first fox as seeming “upset.” When my brother stopped the car, the fox seemed about to approach but thought better of it.  The second, larger fox was  “bounding happily” across the road into the now-flooded marshy area. Seeing two foxes in the middle of the day seems unusual to me – I wonder if they were looking for food or better shelter before the worst of the storm.

My brother also described numerous little birds – sparrows, chickadees and cardinals – flying to and from the backyard bird feeders, even in fierce winds. Earlier in the day, he had been surprised to see geese and seabirds flying about.  In a comment on my early morning post about wildlife in the hurricane, Kelly Rypkema of Nature in a New York Minute posted a link to a fascinating article that describes how scientists have used satellite transmitters to track two whimbrels, smallish shore birds, as they flew straight through the 115-mph winds of a major hurricane!

There is so much still to learn about the world and its creatures.

For more about Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath:
Hurricane Sandy: Flying Point Road, Long Island Update
A Tale of Two Cities: NYC After Hurricane Sandy
Tuesdays With Sandy: NYC Aftermath
The View from My Window: Red-tailed Hawks and City Buses

NYC’s Morningside Heights In Hurricane Sandy’s First Hours

October 29, 2012

The streets were oddly quiet this morning. No buses belched along Broadway and no subways rattled below. The pavement was wet, but no rain fell. The wind gusted intermittently.  I went out for a short walk a couple of hours ago, my first time out since I had foot surgery on Thursday.

The light was strangely dimmed, the air was misty, and dog walkers, knowing what is in store later in the day, were out in force.

Riverside Park is officially closed, but a little bit of tape didn’t stop anyone.

Well, it stopped me.  I longed to go down to get a good look at the Hudson while it was still possible, but I had gone as far as I could manage, lurching along like Quasimodo with my surgical shoe and cane.

Glimpses of New Jersey across the river.

Runners, walkers, curiosity seekers, all were out and in good cheer.

Runners needed to run.

Runners also needed to stretch.

Lookers needed to look.

And walkers needed to walk.

Riverside Drive was empty of cars.

A few shops and restaurants had taped their plate glass windows.

Like most local businesses, the great Manchester Diner had closed for the storm.

“Thank you and stay safe!!”

But O’Connell’s Pub was ready to receive with the door flung wide.

As I write now at 1:15 PM, the rain has begun and gusts continue to pick up. We hear that water has already breached its walls in parts of Battery Park and the Gowanus Canal is flooding.

More updates will follow. Meanwhile, stay safe.

Thinking of Wildlife As The Hurricane Nears

October 29, 2012

Let’s sit and talk and talk. It’s so nice, so warm and cozy here. Listen to the wind. There’s something in Turgenev – “On such a night, happy he who has a roof over his head and a warm corner of his own.” I’m a sea gull… No, that’s not what I mean. I’m sorry. What was I saying? Oh, yes, Turgenev. “And may the Lord help homeless wanderers.”

The Sea Gull by Anton Chekhov
(English Version by Jean-Claude Van Itallie)

Nina’s lines from Act Four of The Sea Gull often spring to my mind in the anticipatory hours before a big storm. Scientists say that most storms have relatively little effect on wildlife at the species level, meaning a bad storm, even if it destroys many individual animals, is unlikely to permanently affect populations of species. But thanks to anthropogenic climate change, we’re now seeing an increase in the number of “severe weather events,” from storms to droughts to seasonal changes that, taken together, are already affecting some species. Still my thoughts in a storm are not about the fate of a species, but about the suffering of individuals, animal and human.

Luckily for our local wildlife, Hurricane Sandy is arriving well past nesting season. Most of our young animals are on their own by now, and many birds have already migrated south. NYC’s resident wildlife will probably do pretty well, over all. The raccoons of Riverside Park should be safe in their retaining wall.

Songbirds will hunker down, lock their toes onto a protected branch, hold their feathers tight against their bodies, point themselves in the direction of the wind, and hold on for dear life as the wind blows past and the rain pelts down.

Feathers can effectively seal out water.

As long as the branch survives, the birds probably will, too. Cavity nesters, like owls and woodpeckers, are even better protected, tucked into natural holes in tree trunks. And squirrels, too, will find a hole in a tree or in the retaining wall, or they’ll burrow into their dreys, thick nests of leaves that they build high in the trees.

If their tree withstands the storm, these creatures will emerge when wind and rain abate to fluff their fur and feathers, and search for food.

Migrating birds are more vulnerable. Exhausted by their travels, their energy reserves depleted, they must find food and shelter wherever they may be. Migrating birds may be blown hundreds of miles off course. Songbirds may be blown out into open sea where they can find no shelter or rest, while pelagic birds may be blown inland.

What may be a disaster for birds – being blown far from their native habitat – offers thrills for birders, who rush out into the aftermath of a storm to search for rare vagrants they might otherwise never encounter.

Tonight in New York City, the wind is starting to gust, although the storm is still hours away. I look out at the strangely quiet streets from my cozy apartment, and hope that all creatures find shelter from tomorrow’s storm.

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