BABYLON, Long Island, N.Y. – The gay mecca of Fire Island sustained serious damage in the Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy.
Storm surge overwhelmed the 31-mile-long barrier island and caused serious damage to many buildings facing the Atlantic Ocean, Suffolk County officials say.
Dozens of buildings were pulverized by pounding waves and high winds, and some were washed out to sea. Erosion changed the landscape of beaches in the area.
Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive, told the media that the barrier island was breached in at least four places.
Fire Island “has been devastated … it will have changed in a number of ways,” Bellone said.
Chris Soller, superintendent of the Fire Island National Seashore, said one of the breaches is so severe that it threatens to create a new inlet.
An estimated 120 people ignored warnings to evacuate Fire Island before the storm and had to be rescued, officials said. No deaths from the storm were reported.
Over the weekend, some Fire Island residents were given permission to re-enter the storm zone to survey damage. One resident using the moniker of “nlaf” took to the Internet on Sunday to say that Fire Islands Pines was the least damaged area and reported this:
“Of all of the communities on Fire Island, ours was one of the least damaged. Yes many ocean front homes have damage but no homes were lost, many are fine and Summer 2013 will be as fabulous as always. Many of these articles are including the other communities of Fire Island who were harder hit, not ours. The harbor area is fully in tact, the new Sip N Twirl building was completely untouched. Hotel Ciel and the Blue Whale are also fine. Most of all we are a resilient community that has bounced back from worse than this. WE ARE NOT DEVASTATED! We have been knocked down but not out!”
Fire Island has been a summertime destination of the LGBT community for decades, and was devastated November 2011 when a major fire destroyed the Pavilion dance club, the Sip N Twirl disco and other nearby buildings.