It wasn’t until Oct. 28, the day before the storm, that all of Long Island realized how bad Hurricane Sandy was going to be here.
By mid-day that Sunday, with nothing but a slight drizzle to indicate a storm was on its way, predictions that the next day’s storm surge could top 11 feet set Riverhead and Southold towns’ emergency evacuation plans in motion.
Though the storm winds, which were just below hurricane strength, didn’t knock down as many trees as Hurricane Irene did last year, low-lying areas, most along the Peconic Bay, were inundated with floodwaters up to several feet in height. Preliminary federal storm surge data showed the storm surge here was between seven and eight feet, despite the conflagration of high tide and full moon at the time the storm hit that lead to storm surges in the double digits farther west.
The main parking lot behind downtown Riverhead was filled with water several feet deep, damaging several buildings and causing at least one shop, Pieceful Quilting, to close its doors and head to higher ground in Calverton.
Throughout the area, low-lying land on the bay saw the most flood damage, including the Bay View Pines section of Flanders, bayfront areas in Aquebogue, Rabbit Lane in East Marion, downtown Greenport and the New Suffolk Waterfront.
Though towns and villages have largely completed the storm debris cleanup, with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, many residents are still waiting on flood insurance inspectors kept busy with the devastation to the west, said Town Supervisor Scott Russell in early December, as Southold agreed to continue to allow residents to dispose of flood-damaged household belongings through early 2013.