Irene’s Approach Hasn’t Ended All Social Plans for Hamptons

Ron Grant Boards Up His West Hampton Dunes Home
Grant, 38, said he would be leaving by the end of the day to ride out the storm in New Jersey. Photographer: Elizabeth Ody/Bloomberg

Hurricane Irene hasn’t stopped all social plans in the Hamptons.

Guild Hall’s ‘Garden as Art Tour,’ which includes several hours of outdoor garden viewings set for Aug. 27, is scheduled to happen as planned, according to Barbara Jo Howard, the art and performance center’s director of marketing and communications.

“The funny thing about it is, the perfect weather for truly viewing a garden is indeed when it’s overcast, because all the colors are enhanced,” Howard said yesterday. “Granted, we’re hoping there will not be a torrential downpour.”

As Irene battered the Bahamas yesterday with winds of up to 113 miles per hour (182 kilometers), most East Hampton residents were taking a few precautions and generally remaining optimistic the storm’s bark would be worse than its bite.

“We’re making sure our generator is working, and we’re preparing to tie things down,” said Bonnie Munshin, general manager at Nick & Toni’s, a restaurant on North Main Street in East Hampton.

The restaurant hasn’t canceled any reservations for Aug. 28, when Irene is projected to pass Long Island. “We plan to be open, if we can get here,” Munshin said yesterday.

Yacht owners with boats docked at Sag Harbor’s Waterfront Marina were advised Wednesday to begin making storm plans, said Nancy Haynes, 66, dockmaster for the marina.

“By tomorrow evening this place will be empty,” said Haynes, from a hut overlooking the 100-foot or greater “mega yachts” still docked at the marina.

High-Wind Risk

The vessels are at risk from high winds and storm surges, as well as from ships moored in Sag Harbor that could break their moorings and crash into docked boats. That’s what happened during Hurricane Bob in 1991, Haynes said.

“It was a disaster,” she said. “There were boats on the breakwater, on the beaches.” She declined to name any of the owners of yachts docked at the Waterfront Marina.

Almost 1.9 million properties in Irene’s projected path are at potential risk of storm surge flooding, according to an analysis of 12 major metropolitan coastal areas by Santa Ana, California-based CoreLogic. Long Island is most at risk with almost 400,000 properties in the projected path, the data provider said. The storm is expected to cross Long Island, Tom Kines, senior expert meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania, said today.

There were no visible signs of hurricane preparations yesterday among the mansions of East Hampton’s Lily Pond Lane, where Martha Stewart and Carl Icahn have purchased homes.

Remaining Optimistic

“People here are optimistic,” said Michelle Leclair, 39, a caretaker of an oceanfront mansion on Drew Lane, off of Lily Pond Lane.

She said she planned to move deck furniture and “anything that could fly around” indoors and may close window shutters, before Irene passes.

“When they’re calling for evacuations in New Jersey it starts to make you think it’s a little more serious,” Leclair said.

Ron Grant, 38, today was boarding up his beachfront home in West Hampton Dunes, and said he would be leaving at the end of the day to ride out the storm in New Jersey.

Not Sticking Around

“Nobody is sticking around here,” he said. “Everybody knows better.”

Grant said Irene would be the first significant test of the dunes, which were rebuilt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during the 1990s after the barrier island was breached by storms in 1991 and 1992.

“The next time I’m here, it might be by boat,” he said.

He said the Dunes’ newer homes have generally been built at least 17 feet above sea level. “They’re calling for 15 foot storm surges and a high tide,” he said.

His own home was built with steel beams, he said. “I don’t see the house going anywhere,” Grant said. “Everything around it might.”

More than 65 million people, or one in five Americans, may be affected by the storm, which is forecast to snake from North Carolina to Maine in the coming days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Everybody thinks we’re going to get something, the question is how bad it’s going to be,” said realtor Jan Robinson, president and owner of Hampton Homes, based in East Hampton. Robinson said she’s arranged to have deck furniture moved indoors and for pools to be covered on behalf of several owners of rental properties she manages.

Rental Losses

“A branch could break off a tree and destroy a vinyl liner” on a pool, she said. “And some of these houses are rented, so if their pool gets a ripped liner and it’s not functional for Labor Day then they’re giving money back to those tenants.”

It wasn’t all business-as-usual in downtown East Hampton yesterday. Customers were stocking up on batteries and flashlights at the TrueValue Village Hardware store, and others were pushing carts filled with bottled water through the parking lot of the Waldbaum’s grocery store.

Alex Goren, 71, who has owned a home in the area for 23 years, was buying batteries and a transistor radio at the hardware store, and said he planned to stock up on nonperishable milk before the weekend.

“The last big storm was 20 years ago,” said Goren. “We ate everything in the freezer.” He said his home is already equipped with a gas-powered generator, and he had 30 gallons of Poland Springs water delivered yesterday.

Out of Plywood

“The lumberyards are out of plywood,” said Tom Downing, owner of Westhampton Beach, New York-based Coastal Management LLC, who was working on a home he was building in West Hampton Dunes today.

Downing said he’s received about 25 requests this week from clients whose homes he either built or has worked on to board up their properties in the area. He said he was trying to get as much done as he could today, since he expected winds to pick up tomorrow.

“Carrying a sheet of plywood is like carrying a sail,” Downing said.

Trains Canceled

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Metropolitan Transit Authority will institute a system-wide shutdown of trains and buses starting at about noon local time tomorrow. The suspension will include subways, buses, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad.

Guild Hall has canceled a play reading scheduled for Aug. 28. The reading of “Side Man” by Warren Leight was going to star actors Melissa Leo and Zachary Quinto, said Howard.

“Even if it doesn’t hit New York it could still hit the Hamptons and Montauk,” said Robinson, the realtor. “The bottom line is that the end of this island does stick out into the Atlantic.”

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