- Rescue services have saved 14 people in an air evacuation and are trying to work out how to save other stranded households.
- 12 homes have been leveled and 80 percent of the remaining homes on the island have been damaged by the storm.
- The coastal service said the devastation was the worst since the 1938 hurricane.
- The dunes have been washed away, the beaches washed away and the coastline may have been permanently violated.
- Power lines are down and the water is several feet deep with another high tide expected this afternoon.
- People use canoes to get around.
At least 120 people remain trapped on an island off the coast of New York without power and contaminated water after ignoring a mandatory evacuation order before Superstorm Sandy hit.
Twelve houses facing the sea were razed and officials said there was damage to 80 percent of the remaining homes on Fire Island, off the south shore of Long Island.
There are no reports of injuries on the narrow barrier island, but its small population faces the worst devastation since Hurricane Long Island Express hit the Northeast in 1938.
With rescuers unable to disembark because the island’s marinas were destroyed, defiant residents of the popular summer resort consider themselves lucky to have survived the storm that has so far killed 50 people.
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Devastation: A house ripped from its foundation after Superstorm Sandy devastated the Fire Island community of Atlantique
Remains: Damage occurred to a home on Mile Island, where 120 residents refused to evacuate
Shocked: Homes on small island struggling to repair damage and 14 rescued by helicopter
“We still have residents on Fire Island,” said Anthony Senft, local Islp councilman. ‘We know we have lost some houses. All of the city’s docks are under water at this point.
The Coast Guard flew over the island to assess the damage and fire departments were planning how to get stranded residents out.
A U.S. National Park Service spokesman said rangers are still trying to assess the damage but fear radical changes to the island’s geography after sand dunes were leveled and beaches washed away.
The Fire Island News Facebook page reported today: ‘The damage is extensive. Power lines are down. The houses are flooded. The standing water is several feet deep on each hike. A high tide is still expected this afternoon.
Violent storm: Men walk past a flooded walkway on Fire Island, assessing damage from fallen trees, overturned cars and downed power lines
Abandoned: Residents use canoes to escape their homes and navigate the flooded island
“No one will really know the true extent of the damage until the water recedes enough for circulation. Right now some people are using canoes.
One of the residents who ignored the order to evacuate and stay on her property said she does not regret the decision to stay.
“The winds were strong,” Karen Boss said. ‘My house was rocking, we headed towards the ocean, the waves were extremely high.
“When high tide came into the bay, water gushed over the boardwalk.”
By yesterday morning, rescuers had helped 14 people off the island, which is south of Long Island, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, Suffolk County communications director.
Permanent damage: the coast has been breached, with flattened dunes, washed out beaches and eroded coastline.
The superstorm has devastated the East Coast and four immediate “ties” crashed on Fire Island.
The Atlantic Ocean surge covered the Great South Bay and washed away the island, which is less than a mile wide and had a population of just 310 at the 2000 census.
Suffolk County Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Joe Williams said it appeared most of the beaches and dunes were gone.
Southampton councilor Chris Nuzzi said there was between two and six feet of sand along a main road because dunes had been pushed back and flattened, and others were filled with debris.
Much of the coast has been severely eroded, according to news daybut it could return in the spring as part of a natural cycle.
Television images tour the havoc wreaked on the coast of Fire Island
“This is probably the worst one on my list as far as the extent of the damage,” said Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who is 63 and has lived in the town his entire life. ‘It’s overwhelming. It’s absolutely devastating.
“For the first time, we had to have city personnel conduct search and rescue missions to get people to higher ground.”
In the town of Mastic Beach on Brookhaven’s south shore, the air reeked of oil, the result of tanks that flooded when Narrow Bay’s storm surge inundated homes in the area. In Long Beach, sewage systems were overwhelmed and officials were installing portable toilets for city residents.
Kings Point experienced a storm surge of more than 14 feet, the third highest of all time.
Flood damage on Fire Island: Helicopter crews plan to rescue trapped residents
While authorities have yet to assess the damage caused by the sinkings, at least one was so deep that it may have permanently breached the island, causing an opening between the ocean and the bay.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Chris Gardner said local officials could ask his team for help if they can’t repair one of the breaches.
Suffolk County Fire and Rescue and the Air National Guard were flying over the island in helicopters to assess the damage.
Helicopter teams will also determine the best method to get people off the island.
AERIAL IMAGES: Flooding on Fire Island where 120 people were trapped