Trees Pierce Homes; 90 Percent Powerless, Shore Clubs Hit Hard

Everything we learned about Sandy in Rye today.

Bill Walsh manually sawed away at a sick elderly pine tree whose branches had pierced the roof of his garage today, happy that the sickly tree next to it didn’t fall into his house about 100 yards away.

“That one is ready to come down, just like this one did this time,” said Walsh pointing to the second tree next to his house. Walsh is a 15-year resident of Redfield Street, which abuts Playland, a county-owned property. Walsh said he has been asking the county to take care of the sick trees for months and they have not responded.

Throughout the city, homeowners dealt with similar tree damage experiences, according to Mayor Douglas French. No one was injured but trees fell all over the streets, backyards and homes, some piercing the roofs and others just missing the structures.

Coastal flooding and wind caused most of the damage in Rye, with a storm surge of about 6 to 11 feet above the normal eight feet, said French. Between Monday and Tuesday, while Sandy ripped through the area, city emergency responders performed 12 rescues, 8-10 boats went missing, all shore clubs were hit hard (some worse than others), 50 people stayed at the Rye Country Day Emergency Shelter, Playland was ravaged by storm water and wind, 90 percent of the city’s electricity was knocked out, and no one knows how many trees have fallen at this point.

Here is everything I learned at a Tuesday afternoon press briefing at the City of Rye’s command center and while meeting with people and surveying damage in Rye Tuesday. Thank you to all of you who shared your stories with me.

Sandy Didn’t Like Playland

Read about County Executive Rob Astorino’s tour of Playland and view a video of the damage here.

Halloween Postponed

Halloween trick or treating in Rye has been postponed to a date still to be determined.


As of Tuesday afternoon, 90 percent of Rye (4,513 households out of 5,000) is without power, which is supplied by Con Edison. French says residents without power should plan for two to seven days of no electricity as the city works with Con Edison to restore electricity. A Con Edison liaison has been working with the city since before Sandy arrived.

For downed wires call police at 914-967-1234. For power outages call Con Edison at 1-800-75ConEd. Read more on those plans here.


City Property, Building Assessment

The city does not plan to call for the Code Enforcement assessment team to assess building damage this year like it did for Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011.

 “We believe our building department can handle it,” French said.

City buildings suffered little damage, French said, a positive when it comes to Sandy’s cost. Officials could provide no estimates on the cost of the storm during a press briefing on Monday afternoon.

Rye Town Park is filled with trash, apparently from Seaside Johnnies. It appears that the storage room under the restaurant busted open and that Sandy’s storm surge carried everything from it up to line the Rye Town Park lawn.

There is water on the high school field even thought the tarp was down. School is closed Wednesday.

Shore Clubs

At the American Yacht Club police rescued five of the “eight to ten” boats that floated away by 2 p.m. Tuesday and were still looking for the others.

Patch reader photos of Shenorock and Coveleigh shore clubs show extensive damage. “Shenorock, AYC and Manursing all saw significant structural damage,” French said. “At Shenorock the deck was pushed back into the building by the water,” French said.

Dearborn pier suffered structural damage.

No boats were lost at the Rye owned boat basin, but some boats did move around onto the pavement, French said. (See photos of this here.)


Rye Country Day Emergency Shelter, Rescues

About 50 people, mostly elderly and some younger families, stayed at the shelter Monday night, and police are expecting more to return Tuesday evening. The Red Cross is providing a hot meal tonight and they have Military Ready to Eat packages there as well.

Yesterday, police brought 12 people to the shelter, six during the morning high tide and six during the evening high tide, French said.

Many of those were elderly residents of Milton Harbor House. By noon Monday only two who stayed overnight remained – the rest had left to assess damage to cars and homes. Both of the remaining, 96-year-old Franz Kraus and 76-year-old Phyllis Pohl, had been picked up from Milton Harbor House by the police on Monday.

Pohl called police around 3 p.m. to pick her up because she recently had knee surgery and could not drive or move well. They arrived right away and took her to the shelter, Pohl said.

“It has been quite an experience…I am lucky to be here,” Pohl said. “It was wonderful,” she said, despite the fact she found the cots uncomfortable and had not slept. The food, help and company was beautiful, she said.

Kraus and Pohls said they received word the city would be sending a bus to pick up all the seniors from Milton Harbor House at 1 p.m. Monday, but that a bus never came. They were not clear who told them transportation was coming, but police said they rescued the seniors from Milton at 9:30 p.m. using the city’s rescue truck.

It was not clear why the seniors were expecting a ride earlier in the day.

Kraus was a passenger in the city-owned military rescue truck that rescued him, his wife and four others Monday night.

“We had to leave through the back door because the front door was flooded,” Kraus said.

“One big success of this (storm) is that we got the two Humvees and rescue truck from the federal surplus,” French said. The rescue truck was the only way the city was able to rescue the seniors because the water had risen several feet by the time they went to get them, he said. Rye recieved the vehicles, at no cost to taxpayers, about a month ago. 

Other city rescues included helping people who had driven around barricades and got trapped in their vehicles near the coastline, police Commissioner William Connors said.

Day-After Emergencies

On Tuesday, police received a call of a fire on Horton Street where a generator inside a garage started a fire. Connors warned all residents to keep their generators operating outside of their homes. The carbon monoxide causes fires, he said.

Police also responded to a call where a resident believed that trees down had caused a gas leak but there was no leak, he said.

Resident Reactions

On Morris Court, resident Retie Curtis is part of the 10 percent of residents that still have power. “We are lucky,” she said while chatting with a friend outside Playland Market, which had no power but was grilling egg sandwiches for customers. Curtis’ house is newer than many in Rye, built in 1992 and has underground cables, she said. A tree just missed a neighbor’s house nearby, she said.

Curtis and her friend Susan Janart, a Beverly Drive resident, were both in good spirits Tuesday afternoon.

“I was earth quake prepared,” Janart said, including that she used to live in Los Angeles and knows how to prepare for emergencies.

While Janart did lose electricity, she was happy she had no tree damage to her home and was thrilled to have her Lehigh College student home for the week. On Sunday, in anticipation of the storm and figuring it would close the college for the week, she drove to Lehigh to pick up her son and five other students from Rye.

A block away at the Playland park entrance, a younger Rye student, 10-year-old Lee Barnes, was as excited as Janart about the school closures.

“I’m really happy,” he said about having no school. Barnes said he spent his powerless evening beating his mom at Scrabble.

How are you weathering the storm? Tell us in the comments.

Find all news Sandy in our Rye Storm Hub here. Submit your Sandy photos here

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