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New York's Long Island feels Irene's punch

August 28, 2011 |  9:28 am

Long Island stormIrene’s New York landfall Sunday morning coincided with high tide to bring the Atlantic Ocean pouring into the streets and houses of coastal Long Island.

Christopher Brackett was driving in his pickup truck on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in central Long Island when the water began climbing up the beaches at around 8 a.m. An hour later, the floor of his family’s auto body shop near the beach was in 3 feet of water.

“Everything is flooded,” Brackett said.

PHOTOS: In the path of Irene

As Brackett spoke, Irene -- downgraded to a tropical storm from a hurricane as it hit Long Island -- caused already-high winds to pick up further. Across the island, trees had been thrown across major highways and an estimated 370,000 households had lost power. On Long Beach, a popular summer destination for New York City residents, winds uprooted a fixed lifeguard station and slammed it into the boardwalk.

The storm continued throughout the morning, with peak winds expected to reach 75 mph.

In South Freeport, near Brooklyn, Nick Dionisio waited out the storm in his house a block from the beach as the water on the street outside rose as high as 4 feet.

“We’re sitting in front of the house and things are floating by like in a river -– benches, trees, the whole nine yards,” Dionisio said. “It is more water than I’ve ever seen down here.”

A day earlier, Dionisio had explained why he was refusing to evacuate. "You gotta watch your stuff," he said. "I got no other choice."


Long Island beach residents refuse to leave

Hurricane Irene snarls New York highways, tunnels, sidewalks

Despite damage, Mid-Atlantic residents say it could have been worse

-- Nathaniel Popper in Long Beach, N.Y.

Photo: Irene batters the beach in Montauk, N.Y., on the east end of Long Island. Credit: EPA / Peter Foley