Storm tides damage Southold soundfront homes

BBOB GHOSIO COURTESY PHOTO | High surf in Southold, where a pair of homes were damaged during the weekend storm.

Angry seas and relentless winds from the post-Christmas nor’easter caused significant erosion along Southold’s Sound shore and ripped away parts of two houses in the Hashamomuck Cove area just east of Town Beach on the North Road.

The storm also chewed up much of the asphalt parking lot at Town Beach and left Soundview Avenue damaged.
“Today our nightmare came true,” was the post-storm assessment by Lynn Lasko, who owns a home on Hashamomuck Cove. She has long lobbied state and county officials to correct the loss of shoreline that also threatens County Road 48 along a narrow band of land between the cove and Hashamomuck Pond to the south.

“County Road 48 is 12 feet from being washed out,” she said.

The surf ripped decks and porches from the two houses and now threatens their foundations, according to Ms. Lasko. “It’s just a matter of one more high tide,” she said. “History repeats itself in a very sad way.”

Ms. Lasko’s home was built on the site of a house her parents owned. That building was destroyed by a storm on Christmas Eve 1994.

Several hundred feet of Soundview Avenue between Goldin Lane and Route 48 have been closed due to flooding that compromised the roadbed during the storm. It will likely remain closed until it is repaired.

“It’s pretty close to undermined. It’s not safe to put traffic over it,” Police Captain Martin Flatley said Tuesday.

The asphalt parking lot at nearby Town Beach was heavily damaged and it appeared the surf was crashing right up along the edge of the paved area, the captain added.

“It’s almost like the whole beach was taken away,” he said.

In late September, local officials took a tour of the eroded beach and talked to residents, who expressed anger over what they saw as the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s failure to take steps to stop severe erosion in the area.

Speaking during Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, Supervisor Scott Russell said representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency had visited Southold earlier in the day to inspect the storm damage. Obtaining federal support seemed a long shot, he said, because it was not clear if the damage to public property met the countywide threshold of $4 million needed to qualify for emergency funding.

The town is preparing an estimate of the repair costs for Soundview Avenue. Mr. Russell said it could be an expensive undertaking because some parts of the road are on private property and the town may need to pay for easements to repair the damage.

The town is also seeking FEMA money to replenish sand lost at Town Beach, McCabe’s Beach and Kenney’s Beach.

In a study completed two years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers identified Hashamomuck Cove as an area in need of erosion protection.

On Sept. 22, residents who live in the 11 houses along the cove joined County Legislator Ed Romaine, Supervisor Russell and Town Trustee president Jill Doherty at a beach near Ms Lasko’s house to publicly chastise the state for not signing on to a proposed $4.5 million erosion study.

Hashamomuck is a natural cove with no shore-hardening structures that might create or contribute to an erosion problem. That makes an effort to solve the problem more complicated than just removing a jetty.

“Stop the studies, stop the back and forth,” Ms. Lasko said after the recent nor’easter. “Let’s pull together and correct this before all homes and the county road wash out.”

Town Trustee Dave Bergen said had been told by DEC regional director Peter Scully that the agency was ready to accept applications for emergency permits from Southold residents who had suffered storm-related structural damage.

The heavy snow that fell during the storm was less of a concern.

“The highway department worked around the clock and came through in stellar fashion once again,” said Mr. Russell.

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Beth Young contributed to this story