2011 Top Story No. 1: Irene spares the North Fork her worst

National Weather Service alerts read that Hurricane Irene, then a powerful Category 3 storm, had “Long Island in its crosshairs.”

Residents along Long Island’s coastlines and in NYC were being told to evacuate or face the storm alone; rescue workers would not be putting themselves in grave danger, officials said.

Old-timers recalled tales from the devastating Hurricane of 1938, which made landfall in Westhampton Beach. But Irene was downgraded when it hit land near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and was categorized as a tropical storm when it finally hit Suffolk County. It took down trees and caused some minor flooding on the North Fork, but Irene spared us her worst, as our headline read.

No storm-related deaths of injuries were reported locally, but 7,000 North Fork Long Island Power Authority customers  — or about 45 percent  — were without power for days after the storm.