Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Liveblogging:Where does Saltaire go from Here?

We would like to set up a discussion to exchange ideas about what all this means for the future.

The Mayor:Hurricane Sandy Update – Friday November 2, 2012

Mayor Cox sez:"We are acutely aware of how anxious everyone is to get out to the beach and examine their homes and witness the state of the village. However, as you can appreciate, the condition of the village infrastructure is too compromised at this point to permit a general return of residents safely. This is a decision
that has been made by the Suffolk County Executive and is being strictly enforced. Access over the bridge to the Robert Moses Park is blocked by police vehicles and only authorized emergency services personnel are permitted access at this time. Fire Island Ferry service has been ordered suspended until further notice. Suffolk County Marine Police and Town Harbor Police boats are
turning back private boaters who attempt to go over to the Fire Island communities.

Our plan is to restore the village infrastructure as quickly as possible. We are working on restoring our water supply and creating safe access down several of our boardwalks. At this point our water system is pressurized for fire fighting capabilities but is not fit for drinking due to the fact that there was a rupture that occurred during the storm. We expect this to be rectified within a week.

The question on everyone's mind is when can they get in to see their homes. The answer that is too early to forecast when conditions will permit a controlled reentry but we are many days away from that. We hope to be able to structure limited access next weekend, but that is subject to many variables outside our
control. The Suffolk County Emergency Services Command has a mandatory evacuation order in effect and an executive order barring access to any one except essential services workers.

LIPA officials are on the island doing an assessment of the work needed torestore power. We believe that power will be restored to the Fire House andVillage Hall this week, but we will not reenergize to individual homes until we complete a house to house inspection by the electrical contractors that we have engaged. They will be beginning this work this weekend.

While many have seen disturbing footage of the devastation to the New Jerseyshore communities as well as the Rockaways and Long Beach communities closer to home, we have been spared that level of devastation. We have no homes that have been destroyed. The scene is NOT reminiscent of the vintage photos of the '38 storm. We have been hit hard, but we will be able to recover and are working feverishly toward that end. The water is receding from the center of the village, which was inundated. There are many low-lying homes that will have hadwater incursion.As of this weekend we will have an emergency team of plumbers and electricians in the village to begin the process of inspection and, as conditions permit, winterization of homes. We hope to have our general contractors available within the next 48 hours.

On Monday we will be setting up a temporary office on the mainland that will be staffed during the business day to facilitate a better operation and improved flow of information.

We will continue to try and keep the lines of communication open, although it is difficult as many of the Long Island communities to which we have sought refugeare still without power as well. In the interim I ask that you bear with us and continue your patient waiting.

Robert Cox


  Denis O'Shea sez: I'm grateful that we have security and law enforcement prohibiting access, there are probably plenty of urchins with boats who would loot our homes if given the chance. --Denis O'Shea

C. L. Ball responds:   "urchins with boats who would loot our homes if given the chance." I think persons with boats large enough to carry equipment and capable of weathering the storm or being stored safely during it are not likely to be in the looting business.
             c.l. ball 
Gregg Dietrich discusses:   It is one thing to "reoccupy" (which is a ridiculous notion since the island was essentially closed for the winter anyway), it is another to have "controlled access" for homeowners. If you look at the destruction Sandy has wrought, Fire Island is the only community where the homeowners do not have access to their homes. The Jersey shore, LBI, Staten Island all have access to their homes in order to assess damage, file insurance claims, and recover possessions. Many of these other areas are far more dangerous than FI. -Gregg Dietrich

JOH sez: Don't jump to conclusions. Pretty much you have to see something like this for yourself before you form opinions.  Who can ever forget  going over on the ferry after evacuations,  like after Donna in 1960, or being there  during  Hurricane Carol in 1954, or going over after the March 1962 storm, or lots of other times. Mayor Ludlow presided over a number of bad storms throughout the 1950s. Beach replenishments too. It was comforting crossing the bay  with your neighbors on that first boat back to the island  after a storm.  Getting there  promptly helped alleviate a lot of anxiety.   After an hour or so relieved  neighbors are talking:  "how did you do?"  ..."Not a thing."  or "lost some shingles." Generally, not all was lost.   And you felt better. Aired out the house and went home for the winter. 
We do know of at least one roof being partially blown off in this storm; you have  seen pictures of a few houses dangling at the edge of  the sea.  Ye  Olde Well is a  little lopsided. Not all is lost.  Not all the boardwalks are "roller coaster." Atlantic Walk is still level, just raised maybe three feet  higher than before. But still level. And a new section of Pacific Walk from Beach Plum to Harbor Prom came through with flying colors.  Maybe most of the houses have no damage at all. Maybe just those  fogged up windows.   --JO'H

For the future:

Put Wooden boardwalks everywhere?
 Replace all wooden boardwalks with concrete walks everywhere?
Wall off the Cove?
Re open mosquito ditches?
Rebuild the beach?
Pump in sand from the ocean?
Move sand that moved north back to the dune area?
Pay for it with tax increases?
Float some bonds?
Get the Feds to pay like when we had a WPA?
Let Nature just move the island northward?
Let nature move the island westward and let fire Island Inlet fill in?

Post comments below by clicking "comments."
No commnet is too small.

Ed note: we  may review comments for obscenity/defamation.
Counselor Kovner:

"All of our homes, including the most endangered can be saved, and our village restored, if we mobilize to get emergency sand on the beachfront. That is the challenge confronting the board and all of us, and I believe that goal is entirely realistic."
                                                                      Victor Kovner

Billy Cunningham Sez and remembers:

First of all, let me thank Jim O'Hare, our webmaster for the essential Saltaire38 website which continues to provide invaluable and timely information about our beloved Saltaire in good times and bad. In our post-Hurricane Sandy world, this service is more essential than ever.
I also want to thank Robert and Noel Feustel and John Zaccaro for the heartbreaking photographs that they have provided. This is real information for Saltairians that in almost real time allows us to inform our worst fears and fervent hopes about the condition of our homes and the Village we love.
Thank you also to our Mayor and Village Administrator for their reports and photographs to date and , in advance, for their future reports and advisories and for the enormous task that confronts them, our Board of Ttrustees, our outstanding Village staff and, indeed, all of us.
As always, tone and sensitivity should be baked into how the photographs, commentary and other information are presented by officials and citizens alike. My heart goes out to all our neighbors and friends who are seeing for the first time, in a very public way, the precarious condition of too many damaged homes--physical structures which house and represent wonderful and sacred memories of family and friends from over the years and often over multiple generations. Indeed, the magic of Saltaire is that we have always honored the past and those who came before us by preserving and protecting its qualities for the present and future so that our special experience and environment might continue for us, those that we know and those who come after us.
The messages from Victoria Baum Bjorklund and Jean Campbell, who grew up in Saltaire, but whose families are no longer present in the Village, make the point that most of us know instinctively--that the blessing of living in Saltaire is an experience that lingers even when we depart its walks and beaches.
It is indeed true that nothing is new under the sun. In the dockhouse, a seeming ancient plaque is displayed honoring the service of Mayor Paul A. Schmitt and his Board of Trustees for their heroic work preserving, protecting and restoring Saltaire after the Hurricane of 1938, when, as was said, "the ocean met the bay". Sadly, the destruction of 1938 has revisited our Village in 2012.
Keep in mind that in 1938 our country was still in the stranglehold grip of a slow recovery from the Great Depression. Without the technology, materias, transportation, planning, fiscal and communication resources that we now have at out disposal, but with their superb vision, sweat and legal know-how, Paul Schmitt and his team leveraged all available resources, including federal assistance through the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps, and prevented Saltaire from being carved up by land speculators and restored the public and private Village infrastructure that we enjoy to this very day.
Why was Paul Schmitt so motivated ? I do not know for sure, but I expect that his iron will and determination were grounded in what Saltaire had meant to his family. Back in the day, one of Paul and Alice Schmitt's three daughters, Dorothy was sickly. The doctors had recommended that the family get out of Brooklyn, and Saltaire was where they landed. Dorothy thrived, and I expect that in 1938 Mr. Schmitt wanted to make sure that Saltaire was around for the good health and welfare of subsequent generations as it was for his family.
His plan worked for all of us and indeed for his own family. Dorothy married Joe Callahan, and gave birth to six children. I met one of the Callahan daughters, Terry, in Saltaire and we recently celebrated our thirty-sixth wedding anniversary.
On the Cunnigham side, our daughters Katie and Annie are the fourth generation in Saltaire. As many of you may now, our Mom, Peggy, served as Village Trustee. Our Dad, Bill, after retiring as a commercial airline captain, served as the Village Administrator in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Dad and Mayor Joel Carr saw the Village through the several so-called no-name Nor'easters that swept through Saltaire at that time.
So, in 2012, Saltaire now faces its greatest challenge since 1938. I am confident and expect that before too long we will all gather together to dedicate a new Village plaque, to be placed next to the Paul Schmitt plaque, so that future generations will be reminded of the heroic service that our Mayor, Board of Trustees, Village Administrator, Staff and all Saltairians will render in the coming days, months and years to once again restore our Village Beautiful, the Incorporated Village of Saltaire, Fire Island, New York.

Bill Cunningham


c.l. ball said...

On this photo at Beach walk: is the ocean-front house gone, or had he area been cleared before?

Photos here show the house gone, from what looks like dune breech.

c.l. ball said...

"Mayor and Village Administrator for their reports "

Where can I find these? My in-laws, Schoenings on Surf walk, are in lower Manhattan w/out power and so cannot receive emails or access internet. I phone news in to them at night.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth one of the photos below shows a closeup of a couple of orange and white cans blocking a walkway that appears to be destroyed behind it. That's in front of the Kasmir-O'Brien house on Pacific and immediately adjacent to our house at 19 East Bay. Actually VOS was in the process of removing the walk already. I was out there last weekend and was the last civilian to get on the 4:35 ferry. The wind had been blowing out of the east all day and the bay was already lapping over the low bulkhead of the slip immediately in front of our house. I'm grateful that we have security and law enforcement prohibiting access, there are probably plenty of urchins with boats who would loot our homes if given the chance. Denis O'Shea

jimmy said...

Thanx, Dennis.
I am taking that particular image down to avoid confusion.

Gregg Dietrich said...

It is one thing to "reoccupy" (which is a ridiculous notion since the island was essentially closed for the winter anyway), it is another to have "controlled access" for homeowners. If you look at the destruction Sandy has wrought, Fire Island is the only community where the homeowners do not have access to their homes. The Jersey shore, LBI, Staten Island all have access to their homes in order to assess damage, file insurance claims, and recover possessions. Many of these other areas are far more dangerous than FI.
-Gregg Dietrich

Jamie said...

How will all of the walks be replaced in a single winter? I'm not sure it can be done. Temporary walks for 2013? What would those be like. If all walks can be replaced by April/May, it will be the plain old stuff, which isn't bad, but which floats. Concrete on it's own won't work in marshy Saltaire. But what about a hybrid? Deep wooden posts every 12 feet - apply formwork horizontally between pairs of post, insert pre-made rebar, pour concrete so it covers posts and fills the gap between (a low wall between posts), then joist on top of concrete. Use screws, not nails. Would not float, and would not be prohibitively expensive.