Quick-moving storm dumps more than 4 inches of rain in Mattituck

08/23/2017 3:16 PM |

Around noon Friday, the skies opened up for about 90 minutes, parking lots and basements flooded, lawns in the middle of a business district had “high tide marks” and a car even floated away.

Some roads that have had flooding problems in the past, like Old Sound and Bray avenues in Mattituck, had really big problems Friday.

Observer stations that report to the National Weather Service reported 4.07 inches in Mattituck, 3.79 inches in Riverhead, 3.44 inches in Baiting Hollow, 3.96 inches at the Cornell Cooperative Extension on Sound Avenue and 1.30 inches at Orient Beach State Park.

“Mattituck really got the brunt of the storm,” said Southold Town Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando.

Mr. Orlando said he was checking up on the some of the hardest hit areas Friday when he came upon a truck floating in the recharge basin off Bray Avenue.

He said he helped the driver out of the vehicle and drove him home.

“The water was like a river going down there,” Mr. Orlando said. “He tried to go through it and the water just lifted up his truck and floated him into the recharge basin.”

The parking lot at the Mattituck Plaza shopping center also flooded with several inches of water and flooding in front of Handy Pantry left the roadway “almost impassable, it was so flooded,” Mr. Orlando said, adding that he’d never seen that section of Main Road so flooded before.

The businesses on the north side of Main Road, opposite Handy Pantry, still had “high tide marks” on their lawns several days later, he said, referring to debris that was washed up by the storm.

For Doug Bogovich, who lives at the bottom of Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck, it was a familiar story.

A drain in front of his property catches most of the runoff from Old Sound Avenue. But on Friday, his driveway looked like a river and his house and garage were flooded. He said the town had just resurfaced the road a few days earlier.

“I’ve been here 40 years, and guaranteed, two to three times a year, this happens,” he said Friday. “All of the water from the entire road and the side roads dump into here. This is the only drain on Old Sound Avenue. It’s insufficient drainage.”

“It was all the way up to the loading dock, the whole basement was flooded out,” said Jennifer Long of Dame Construction, across the street from Mr. Bogovich.

Mr. Orlando said his department recently installed new drainage on Old Sound Avenue, but the amount of rain that fell Friday was “a little extreme.”

“No drain in town was able to keep up with that,” he said. “We measured 3.9 inches in about 90 minutes.”

The recent roadwork included installing larger pipes and connecting them to a drainage system on Lipco Road, Mr. Orlando said. Because Lipco Road is uphill from Mr. Bogovich’s property, the pipe was dug down 6.5 feet by the time it reached Lipco.

He said additional work on Old Sound Avenue is planned.

Ms. Long got a double dose of flooding, since she lives on Bray Avenue.

“For years it’s flooded there,” she said of the recharge basin. “We call it Lake Bray.”

While she’s never seen a car float away before, she said people constantly try to drive through the street while it’s flooded and end up losing bumpers and parts of their cars.

Riverhead Town also saw lots of floods.

“It was flooded all over,” Highway Superintendent George Woodson said. “About four inches in an hour. But once it stopped, all the flooding kind of subsided within a half-hour to 45 minutes.”

He said water needs time to drain naturally, and this storm happened too quickly for that to happen.

Farm roads like Reeves Avenue, Sound Avenue, Church Lane and Roanoke Avenue were among the most flooded areas in town, he said.

Mr. Woodson said he’s been speaking with county Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) about developing ways to contain water on farms.

But with a storm like Friday’s, he added, “there’s no way any drain can handle that much rain at once. It’s just Mother Nature’s wrath.”

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Photo: A man took off his shoes and walked barefoot across the flooded parking lot at Mattituck plaza Friday afternoon. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

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