Thursday, November 8, 2012

County-Wide Gasoline Rationing. Also, Sandy Q+A @ Rec Center, Nov 10

Hello Freeport, and all of Nassau,

I'm just one of many outlets barking this out, but hey.  It's what I do, right?  Or, at least, do for now!

According to a statement by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, we will be switching to an odds-or-evens system for gasoline refueling in order to regain some control over the fuel shortage.  Starting a 5:00 AM on November 9th, gas stations will ONLY sell fuel to certain drivers based on the day it is.  It works like this:  If your license plate ends in an odd number, you can buy on an odd day.  So if it ends with 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, then you can buy on the 9th, 11th, 13th, etc.  If it ends with 2, 4, 6, 8, then you buy on even days.

Out of state or vanity plates (NOT ending in a number) count as odd.

Gas cans and other special circumstances like commercial/emergency vehicles are not necessarily under these restrictions.  You can read about it in the actual announcement.  The duration is for however long it takes for Nassau County to decide we don't need this anymore.

Why are they implementing this?  Aside from lingering concerns over Sandy (when I filled up I honestly only ad a 45 minute wait, but I filled up on Tuesday), yesterday's Nor'Easter Athena apparently knocked out a fuel pumping station for some time, revitalizing the shortages we're facing.  My general impression, I could be wrong, is that the problem was working itself out until this new storm came and blanketed us with, like, just a nightmare of snow.  Then more power outages hit and we found ourselves right back at square one.

Hurricane Sandy Q and A w/Mayor Hardwick and More; Freeport Rec Center, Nov 10, 5:00 PM

Long subtitle, eh?

So here's the deal with this.  On a lark, I checked the Village webpage to see if maybe they had said anything about the Nor'Easter we're facing.  Nope!  Nothing there.  It's only a major winter storm a week and a half after a Hurricane, but why bother acknowledging it now when it already hit us without our local government's notice, right?

Anyway, our local government wants to make it up to us by hosting a two hour Q&A session on the situation!  Mayor Hardwick, the Police, Fire, Electric, and other departments, will all be on hand to answer questions.

There was also an update about how the Police Department is glad to report that homes are safe and secure.  No actual statistics have been provided to answer the rampant allegations of looting.  I'm not a believer that a situation is ever as bad as it seems, especially in a politically charged environment, but I know for a fact there have been some incidents of crime.  I know of one story where an old lady was using a hand-truck to remove her ruined belongings from her basement; she went inside for a break, and when she came back her hand-truck had been stolen off of her property.

So questions?  Take them to the Rec, because they probably aren't getting answered until then.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nor'Easter Athena Hitting Freeport

Hello, hello, Freeport,

Who's tired of bad weather?  Everyone!  Yet here's a picture of the corner of Atlantic and South Long Beach about half an hour ago!

Yep.  Nice and snowy.  Just the way post-hurricane areas are, right?

In all seriousness, Freeport Schools had to let out two hours early in order to evacuate their buildings in the event of a sudden recurrence of flood-waters.  From what I saw in Freeport, it hadn't - YET - begun to flood badly.  Then again, I didn't go that far south because I was already having difficulty driving - or, rather, others were, as I'd already been hit once.  No damage to my vehicle, fortunately!

Plenty of people have talked about the schools closing tomorrow, but I have heard absolutely nothing to confirm that.  Chances are a decision won't be made for a few hours, but The Weekly Freeporter will try (if possible) to bring you the latest.  Until they're closed, assume they're open - except, that is, for Giblyn, which is still closed.

At this point, I am obligated to remind you all of a few quick facts...

1:  The Weekly Freeporter is not a weather service, but an information service.  A free one.
2:  The Village Webpage is also not a weather service, but an information service.  Paid-for by taxes.
3:  Weather updates are a form of information; severe weather updates are an important sub-category of information.
4:  The populace needs to know about important information.  Promptly.

Draw your own conclusions, because to be honest, it's starting to verge on negligence.  And, no, a "weather" tab does not count.  Especially one sending clickees to East Meadow Public Library.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Freeport Schools - except Giblyn! - to re-open Weds, November 7th

Hey Freeport,

This is the latest, straight from  I'm sure we're all busy watching the election results, so I'm cut/pasting because it's easier:

From Dr. Kuncham, Superintendent of Schools
All Freeport Schools, EXCEPT FOR GIBLYN SCHOOL, will be open on Wednesday, November 7th.
All afterschool activities for the rest of the week are cancelled.
Giblyn school will be closed for the remainder of the week.  Giblyn students will not be reporting to the school on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Due to on-going clean-up efforts that are necessary for the health and safety of our students and staff, we will have to relocate temporarily as these clean-up efforts continue.
A meeting for Giblyn parents will be scheduled and a separate communication will be forthcoming.
Giblyn teachers and staff should report to the Atkinson Auditorium tomorrow morning, Wednesday, November 7th at 9:00am.

Private and parochial transportation will be available provided those schools are open.
We thank you for your patience and understanding.

So, let's assess...

 - NO after-school activities.
 - NO Giblyn; it needs to get fixed up.
 - Giblyn staff reports to Atkinson.
 - An apology for the late notice of the schools' official status.

I also want to note that the weather tomorrow is going to be...Bad.  We're maybe going to get snow, maybe rain, all from a Nor'Easter that could cause some more flooding.  How exactly it will develop is yet to be determined, The Weather Channel has predicted it going a bit out to the east and not hitting us as badly as we feared, but whenever they give numbers (in this case, a 3-4 foot storm surge), bear this in mind:  We don't have many barrier islands or beach dunes left to block any storm surge.

One resident in particular offered me this undeniably cynical (therefore, hilarious) gem:  If the Mayor had decided, instead of going to China or Germany, to head to Denmark and learn something about flood prevention, this might not have happened.

I say this manly because I remember Bloomberg's plan for NYC involving sea walls, dykes, and the like.  Suddenly, it looks like the massive investment in a sea-wall might well be worth it, indeed.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy Election Update - No changes? Really? It seems so.

Hey, Freeport,

So, in a fit of futility I decided to check the Nassau County Board of Elections website.  Forgive me for not linking to it, but honestly you can't trust it.  Why not?  Because when I checked it, surprise, there were no updates!  And yet here we are, with an update from the New York State Board of Elections!  Weird, huh?  No, more like "totally incompetent."  This is only a Presidential election, never mind the senatorial/house/local elections that are going on.  It's not like you should have your act together, even in the face of a disaster such as Sandy, by the day before the election.

Sorry, but my tax dollars go to support this lunacy, which is clearly not money well spent.  (Small update:  As I wrote this very article, NC BoE's website updated to include this list.  In other words, 12 hours before polls are supposed to open, they're just now acting on over a week of painful realities).

Anyhow, as you look through the NYS BoE list you'll be surprised not to find any locations in Freeport; not even Giblyn School.  That means that as of 6:00 PM EST the day before the election (12 hours before it starts), we should expect to find that people who normally vote at Giblyn are going to vote at Giblyn.  In fact, as far as I can tell, any and all election expectations in Freeport are for them to be exactly the same as they always have been - go to your usual place between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on November 6th, 2012.

There is a caveat:  According to the NYS BoE website, in the absence of sensible decision-making on behalf of the various counties in New York State, Governor Cuomo seized the reins of this situation and issued an executive order regarding provisional (affidavit) ballots...

Executive Order – Voting by Affidavit Ballot
Governor Cuomo has signed an Executive Order which provides for a voter who is a resident in the federally-declared disaster counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester and of New York City (which includes Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond) who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy:
  1. To vote an affidavit ballot at any poll site in New York State, other than their regular poll site;
  2. Every Board of Elections in the State shall transmit the completed affidavit ballot of any voter who resides in one of the above counties to the Board of Elections where such voter is registered to vote to be canvassed;
  3. The affidavit ballot can only be canvassed for such contests for which the person was entitled to vote at such election.

So basically, as long as you are in a federally-declared disaster area, you can go to any polling place to cast a vote for the election, and it'll be counted.  That's a huge relief, because it means that in the case of confusion or any further changes, you can still cast your vote!  Just make sure to know who is running for the offices that you are voting for - or, at least, who you want to win.  As always, we stress that you vote not based on who you don't want to lead, but who you do want to lead.  Fortunately, as long as you know your preferred candidate's name, you should have no trouble in the event that there are more changes made at the last minute.

Because relying on Nassau County's Board of Elections to give you up-to-date, efficient information is a clearly mistake of cataclysmic proportions, since they can't get their act together.

Oh.  And do I even need to stress that not one scrap of information on this, y'know, ever-so-slightly-important issue appears on the Village webpage?  Nope.  Not that I expect them to have the latest news that even Nassau County couldn't get (From itself), but not even a question or statement about the election.  Not as of publication, anyway.  Just in case you were wondering.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Sandy Monday: School Updates, Rec Center Showers, Elections, Weather and much more!

Hey Freeport,

There's still a long way to go for us to recover from the Hurricane.  For starters, some Jets fans forgot they have a bye-week today (so they can't possibly lose!), while the Giants are up 14-10 and driving down the field!  Check that; they're up 17-10 and just picked Big Ben off!  And now they're up 20-10!  But then Pittsburg struck back, 20-17.

But in all seriousness, these are some of the latest updates we have on the state of our recovery.

Gas lines

Sadly, there are still substantial lines to get fuel, and it's a big problem.  As we try to return to work, we need gas to, y'know, feed our cars.  It's also wise, at this time, not to assume all stations will accept credit cards.  To that end, The Weekly Freeporter wants your help!

Help us confirm what gas stations are open; when they are open; whether they are accepting credit cards; and whether or not they have a separate line for walk-ups as opposed to cars.

Additionally, as a news item; a Federal gas service opened up at the Freeport Armory (You know, that blighted property nobody could possibly want for anything good?).  What escaped the original announcement was that this gas is for First Responders Only!!!!  I can't stress that enough - if you aren't a first responder, you will be denied a fill-up.  I 100% agree with this principle - if you're helping to save lives, you don't wait on a gas line and you don't pay for it, period.  I just wish the original news article I'd seen had mentioned this little caveat.

Our video-sensei Jason Bass and Michael Suchan, a long-time friend of The Weekly Freeporter, visited a gas station and recorded not just how long the lines were, but interviewed actual gas seekers!  This is a new and powerful clip, so check it out!  Many props to Jay and Mike - thank you!

Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that this should be a "short term" problem, but even that means a few more days of difficulty.  As power is restored and more stations can be opened, and as roads are cleared so more trucks can arrive, we'll see the problem slowly peel off.  Until then, don't be like one fool we saw at a gas station - a lady who bought six dollars worth of gas, after waiting on line for hours, because she just had to have a full tank.  Don't be that guy who gets on the line and, due to impatience, starts a fight.  Go with a friend if you can, so you have someone to talk to and pass the time.  Hell, bring a bottle of water and some candy and make it a trip!

But be civil.

Freeport Schools Closed till Tuesday

Last night I was getting ready to return to the schools.  All buildings but Giblyn were supposed to open tomorrow, but when I sought to verify the operational status of the district, I was stunned - truly stunned - to find that the Freeport Public Schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday, Nov 5+6, with an anticipated re-opening on Wednesday.

According to the school's webpage, Dr.  Kishore Kuncham, Superintendent of schools based his decision...  "upon information received from local and County agencies regarding shortages of fuel, continuing infrastructure concerns, and advice regarding communication, emergency services and hospital capacity"

In other words, Dr.  Kuncham did the wise thing in permitting the situation to dictate his decisions, and not sticking to a firm deadline when it didn't make sense.  Kudos.

Rec Center Showers and Food

According to all information I've seen, the Freeport Recreation Center will be open on Monday from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM to let residents take hot showers and to allow other relief agencies a place to set up shop. What's that mean?  It means that if, say, an agency is offering hot food to victims, then you know where to find that agency.  I don't have a full list of who will be there and what they'll be offering, but hopefully it will be considerable!

Note that the pools, sauna, and steam room will not be open.  Many residents have asked why the Rec wasn't open beforehand, and that's because it suffered serious damage during the storm and would not have been safe.

Weather:  A(nother) Nor'Easter Inbound?!

My old man told me this, and I checked it much to my chagrin; The Weather Channel reports that this week, Wednesday or so, we're going to get hit by a Nor'Easter.  This won't be nearly as bad as the Hurricane itself, but the sad truth is that we don't need any more damage than we've already taken.  We're lucky in that we are not likely to get snow (that's reserved for further north and west), but the winds can still get pretty severe.

It's the last thing we need, but at least we have a few days to prepare for it.

2012 Presidential and Other Elections

I just checked the Nassau County Board of Elections webpage.  At this time it does not reflect any shifts in polling locations.  I am stunned that there haven't been any prevalent announcements in this vein, as it's becoming rather late to let people know not to go to their usual polling places - especially if that place will require a long drive from a shelter, and therefore requires a stay on one of those long gas lines.

Speaking of gas...

Gas Main Problems South of Freeport

My house still doesn't have natural gas.  This is because there is at least one damaged main in the area.  I've already given up all hope of National Grid having a clue what it's doing (last we heard, we were told we had it and we didn't, and the guy up and bounced), so go figure.

Electrical Restoration

As reported by the Village website, at what I have to say is just an unnecessarily complicated URL (the script-kiddie in me is grumbling), 95% of the Village lying north of Atlantic has been restored; 23% of it south was.  I can only imagine, since that was yesterday's report, that the number has improved.

First of all, I wanna tip my hat to the Electric department for all of the incredible work they've done.  There's really nowhere else in the region that's getting online so fast.  We're, what, maybe 75%-80% restored over-all?  LIPA is hovering at 66%.  We have an amazing department here, and we should - we pay for it!  And that's great, that's why it's there!

Second of all, in a previous update I wondered about what was going on with the restoration effort.  I pointed out how the Mayor had been interviewed by Fios 1, where he'd claimed that all but 600 residents (or even households) were restored.  I think it's obvious by now that this was a flat-out lie.  There's no other way for me to say it, it was false information distributed to a media outlet.  I'd pointed out how chaotic the brand new "if you don't have an electrician's note, we pull your meter" plan had been executed.  People were told to get their own electricians, and shelled out $90 (if they got a good price!) only to later be told that it would be provided for them.  Fortunately, after many nights in the dark, the Pohlman residence finally has juice back.  Just in time for us to start arranging for a dumpster so we can toss our basement.

Then, in order to find out about what the status of the repairs were, we called the Office of Emergency Management and were given multiple phone numbers to try - and not all of them worked.  We're frankly lucky that this was a minor issue, and not a matter of life-and-death that the OEM pulled out the wrong number on.

Communication Breakdowns Continue

Welcome to the critique, and it isn't pleasant.

All in all, and I can't say this enough, communication is key.  I have gotten literally dozens of people thanking me and The Weekly Freeporter for keeping them informed about what's going on in the Village.  They don't just mean that this publication is more plugged-in to the Village than any other media presence.  They also mean, quite frankly, that the Village itself has done a sub-par job of keeping residents updated.  I respect the "point of contact" idea that the Village has - that you call OEM and they direct you wherever you need to go.  That's good emergency-management, even if the practice of providing contact ends up with hiccups.  But that's only for direct inquiries, not press releases.

It's not good that the Village webpage is rarely updated (maybe 2x a day; unlike us, they get paid for this, they have no excuse), and there is incomplete information escaping.  There is/was (I can no longer find it!  That could just be me, though) a Facebook page with updates, but I could not pin down who was responsible for updating it ("A volunteer" under the direction of the head of "Social Media" or something, I don't know), and quite frankly it was giving a lot of old or random news.  So information wasn't really flowing very well to residents.  As for the Mayor's own Facebook page?

Most of the information on his page isn't coming from him, but is being posted on it by concerned citizens.  On the other hand, if you were wondering, why, yes, he made it a point to invite me to the FB event for the fund-raiser he's having on December 28th, 2012 at the Coral House!

For his re-election campaign.

Now, I did dig into this a touch; it turns out that this event was created a short time before the storm really hit us.  That means the Mayor wasn't really spending time that should have been reserved for helping people on conjuring up something for his re-election campaign, just to deflect that little rumor.  But - and this is why he (or any other campaign, perhaps?) could really benefit from hiring a certain private consulting contractor with a sense of honor as well as a sense of public relations skill:  Do we really need to know about $75/plate events?

Instead, maybe Mayor Hardwick should schedule and host a "Relief for Freeport" fund-raiser, with all proceeds going to the American Red Cross or something.  We could host it at the Rec Center if it is operations-worthy, or at a school if we can get access.  Make it a buffet-style event, make it $20 or so per plate, and the Mayor and whoever else can be there to glad-hand and praise residents for the strength they have shown.  Suddenly, not only do the people have more respect for you, but you're generating revenue for those who are effected by a natural disaster.

Alternatively, he could throw his support behind a "Freeport Marketplace" day, where merchants effected by the storm gather up and sell their wares - and local eateries that suffered damage can send food for a small food bar.  A small ($5) cover fee - all donated, of course! - would let people in, and as long as the businesses inside offered their wares for generous prices they could pocket the proceeds.

In effect, this would generate economic recovery within Freeport, boosting our businesses while allowing residents access both to political leaders (again, the Mayor would be there!) as well as relatively inexpensive goods that will be cheaper than going to the mall or whatever.  I mean, for all I know it can be stuff that was damaged, but not ruined by the storm - a little water damage on a brand new desk, let's say, could easily be masked after purchase.

Or there's the StayStrong project, now with Sandy sweaters!

These are just ideas I'm throwing out at the spur of the moment, ideas on ways that a little fore-thought in the communications department could easily improve upon.  Instead of a campaign fundraiser, campaign by doing the right thing and helping people in need.  That goes for any and all candidates, by the way, not just the Mayor.  He's just the unfortunate impetus for this kind of thing, as he so often - through his own actions - is.

Continue taking care of yourselves and each other, Freeport, and thank you all for reading and supporting The Weekly Freeporter.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gas Madness in Freeport - Video by Jason Bass

Hey Freeport.

Oh yeah, Gas is a mess.  Our correspondent and videographer Jason Bass just swung through Freeport for a bit, checking out how the gas crisis is turning out in the Village.  Trust me, you should see these clips.

That's pretty severe.  Here's the second spot!

Next, Jay's third stop...

And the last!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy #14 - Bay Park Sewage Treatment Emergency


I was hoping to be done.  To write a little fiction for a change, maybe to fall asleep.  Nope.  Thanks to Debbie Becker and her re-posting of a Newsday Article, it's come to our attention that the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant is experiencing serious if not crippling problems.

Excerpt:  "Raw sewage has begun to seep into some homes served by the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, and officials have begun diverting effluent into Rockaway Channel after the facility was flooded by superstorm Sandy."

Ed Mangano has also released a public health warning.  This is a bit less direct in explaining how serious this problem is, but it serves the purpose.  DON'T WASTE WATER.  I know we aren't, but still.  Any water that goes into the drain, or even into the local water table, adds just a tiny bit more pressure into the plant.  If the plant can't process what it's taking in, it'll back up - and all hell will break loose.

I know it seems like a distant problem, but if this plant gets crippled it will make our recovery a thousand times worse.  I know I'm guilty of underestimating this particular issue, and I apologize for my share in it, but do what you can to cut back on water now and save us down the line.

If you have any information, contact us.

Visiting Long Beach After Hurricane Sandy

Hey everyone,

If you haven't already, check out Update #13, which contains news and - yes - a bit of editorializing.

This here is the video of us exploring Long Beach after Hurricane Sandy hit.  It's the last of our videos on Hurricane Sandy, and it caps up a great day of shooting.  We've learned a lot about documenting events, and I want to hand it to Jason Bass again for all the awesome film work he did with me.

We hope you've enjoyed our coverage of Hurricane Sandy.  As we get more updates, we'll keep you posted!

Sandy Update #13: School Closures, Power Restoration, Gas, Water Conservation, Price Gouging

Greetings Freeport,

This is our first numbered update since we posted our videos of Freeport's devastation.  Our goal in #13 is to consolidate some of the news floating around about Hurricane Sandy's aftermath.  And, yes, to ask a few more questions about a certain policy that I am growing more convinced is foolish.

School Closures

Once again, Freeport Public Schools will be closed for the rest of the week.  This is not a universal rule for all school districts in the area; for example, NYC is asking its teachers to come in on Friday.  Freeport, as one of the harder-hit communities in this area, is understandably less ready to return.  It's staff, assuming at least many live in South Freeport, are basically living in the stone age (more on that soon!).  Any employees coming in from Long Beach or other coastal communities might - for all we know - be living in shelters.  And that's before we start worrying about the students and their conditions.

Right now, it's simply wise to give the kids less stuff to worry about, especially those down south.

Gas Restoration

Gas is handled by National Grid, if I'm not mistaken.  It'll be turned on when it is, but truthfully I'm not convinced they'd know it.  At our home, the National Grid guy said we'd have gas - and we don't.  Clearly, not all of them are on the same page.

Water Conservation

In general, try to conserve water.  I haven't heard of any sewer-line breaches or boil-water orders, but Ed Mangano has stressed that sewage treatment facilities are not fully functional, and burdening the water district is a bad idea.

Price Gouging

For those who don't know, when an emergency hits there are some folks who will try to make money.  We received one report of residents who were getting lunch outside of a gas station.  They watched as the price went from $3.79 to $3.99 - A jump, but not an unreasonable one.  Suddenly, it hit $4.49.  I'd seen prices as high as that yesterday, but I wasn't prepared for what I heard next in the story.

Freeport Police showed up, and the owner of this undisclosed gas station got taken away in handcuffs for gouging.

This is coming from a pretty reliable source, but I'm not mentioning specifics for a reason.  Mainly, they're not the only place that's done this, to my knowledge, and I want it to be a nice surprise for when others call in to say something.

Power Restoration

Best for last, as they say.  So.  Here's where I remind everyone that TWF has a strict editorial policy about not being partisan...Because as you've guessed, I'm about to say something that might be made out as partisan, even though it isn't.  I'd also like to note an open letter I wrote earlier on our Facebook page, lest anyone think that I am being overwhelmingly in favor of any one party or politician, here.

In Update #12 I mentioned that the Village was intentionally shutting power to everything in "South Freeport," which I learned to be everything south of Atlantic Avenue.  As we reported earlier, this shut-down is until Saturday at 10:00 AM.  The Village is asking all residents (effectively requiring) to hire an electrician to come and verify that their house is safe to return an electrical current to.  We've seen what happens when it isn't, and that's all well and good.  I have it upon information I can rely on that if you do not get an independent evaluation proving your home's safety, it might not get turned on at all!

Of course, I also have it upon separate information that you need to pay for this evaluation out of your own pocket.

To the Village's credit, they sent people door-to-door to deliver these notices.  They additionally, again to their credit, have produced a list of electricians you can view by clicking this link!  All of that is great for those with friends who are online.  None of that addresses the simple fact that residents are being forced to pay for a brand new mandate out of their own pocket, one that to the best of anyone I've spoken to's knowledge has never before been a policy.

All of this might not seem like such a slap in the face to us residents effected by this ruling if and only if we had been informed before the storm came.  Preferably, I would have liked to see this announcement made, I dunno, at a general meeting and distributed well in advance of any potential catastrophe.  As it stands, this is a brand new rule which essentially screws over a lot of Freeporters who already have it hard enough.  I've always said safety comes first, and it does - but at this point, the safety of having power back is the greater loss.

As every day goes by without it, peoples' homes are being damaged by the water they cannot pump out without electricity.  They can't properly clean their homes, so they will develop dangerous mold.  They can't re-charge vital cell phones or receive news updates.  They can't cook real food (I know people who have been living on peanut butter and jelly for days), they can't take real showers or engage in practical good hygiene.  Most of all, for those who have medical needs like orthopedic beds, oxygen tank re-charging requirements, or built-in lifts to get up stairs, this is a serious problem.

Their safety has essentially been auctioned off in favor of others who might or might not ever be able to act upon this opportunity to "protect their property."  It's easy for me to say this until, hypothetically, they turn on the juice and someone's house burns down.  That probably won't happen, and I understand erring on the side of caution.  However, it's already been, what, four days almost?  Will two more really matter?  Will this ruling really be enforced?

Now, in that above open letter I wrote, I argued that it's unfair to criticize the Mayor when, quite honestly, we have little idea what he's been up to and how he has (or hasn't, if you must take that view) been handling the situation.  I did hear about him appearing on Fios 1, so I dutifully looked up some video.  I looked for other clips and I looked for things from News 12, but all I got was the above link to a phone interview from October 30th.  In less than a minute, I heard something startling and something that, as someone effected by this situation, kind of rings downright dirty:

"We know that we've come from more than 10,000 residents out of power to just about 600." - Mayor Andrew Hardwick.

My response:  Mr.  Mayor, exactly how many people live in Freeport?  And how many live south of Atlantic?  Did you mean to say "600 households?"  That I might believe, but 600 residents?  You used the word "residents" twice.  Either you mis-spoke, which you probably should have corrected (since you should have been well versed in this information, and not made the same mistake twice), or you frankly misled the media and residents who have heard you.

Never mind that you said you only decided after the hurricane hit to officially enter us into a state of emergency, something that might only be symbolic since the entire state has been in one since Monday.  Hell, it might not even be something you can legally do until after the hurricane hits!  If that's the case, then nobody can be upset at you - in fact, you should be commended.  But, then again, as I keep saying about communication, and have literally been saying for years, I don't see any actual explanations anywhere of what is going on.  That's what's most irksome to me - by now, we should have some information to survive on and we just don't.

In short - I stepped up, professionally of course, when other people were blasting you and said that it was too early to know for sure what happened, and that we needed more information.  Taken as a defense, I defended your administration, but I view it as journalistic integrity to prohibit pre-determined arguments from being leveled.  Well, now we have a little more information and it is not looking good.  Foisting the cost of an evaluation off onto those who have been the hardest hit is downright scandalous, and not just because I'm one of those who has been hit.  Hell, it's not even because I'm one of those who didn't really need to be cut off in the first place (Our box never got a drop on it).  I can get that, even if I don't like it.

But I can't get how this lack of communication with residents has been allowed to go on, and I especially can't get how you are implementing a brand new emergency management tactic without any advance notice.  Emergency shut-downs I get, I can respect, and I can even defend.  Non-emergency keep-downs and especially additional financial burdens, I don't, can't, and won't allow to stand unquestioned.

You've created an unenforcible policy.  What, is Freeport Electric going to go into every house?  Is it going to manually cut the lines to every house, and only restore those who have a signed doctors (Sorry, Electrician's) note?  If so, why not just do that now, and restore power to those who are ready to go?  In fact, why not just have Freeport Electric go door to door, investigate each box, and activate blocks when they're ready?  It's probably because that's not practical, and it won't be any more practical on Saturday than it is right this minute, or yesterday when this new plan was announced.

I get that in a way I'm spoiled.  Freeport has always had very good electrical service.  It's something we pay for, and we consequently expect.  This is a totally new policy, and even in the face of a once-in-seventy-years (the last was 1938) disaster new policies should not be thrown into effect carelessly.  Having fifty years of high expectations for electricity restoration, then turning that on its ear without prior notice is just plain irresponsible.  Yes, I realize many communities won't have power next Saturday.  We're not them. We're Freeport.  I realize our crews are out there working hard to get power up, but we've never before had these problems, and they are not ones caused by a hurricane.  They're caused by leadership's decisions.  Or do you really think that the electrical workers will somehow have an easier job pretending they're an elementary school's attendance office, and looking for "return to power" notes?

Sandy's Aftermath,Videos 3, 4, 5; Interviews, Damaged Homes, The Mile - School Cancellations


Real simple, again with credits to Jason Bass and myself.  And with a bunch of respect for all of our emergency service workers, both in Freeport and from outside.

Important note:  Freeport Schools are closed on Thursday the 1st, Friday the 2nd!

Part three:  This one is 20+ minutes long.

Part four:  Our interview with Daniel Wright

Part five: The house on Bryant street

Exploring the Aftermath; Sandy Survey Parts 1 and 2

Hello again (as if its been so long!),

Last post, we featured video by Frank Napoli, owner of Atlantic Pizzeria, of Hurricane Sandy hitting Freeport.  Now, thanks to the awesome video-conversion skills of our cameraman, Jason Bass, let's get started on yesterday's trip through Freeport!

Our interview with resident Daniel Wright; just a picture!

As always, if there's a bit of bad language, well, we don't really have editing software; let alone the money for any!  Also, I mean, it's the aftermath of a hurricane.  In a way, it's really horrifying.

Part one.

Part Two

More to come!

Hurricane Sandy Hitting Freeport; Video by Frank Napoli

Hey Freeporters,

So, my colleague Jay has been hard at work converting video files.  First of all, let's get to the newly-posted videos submitted by Frank Napoli, owner of Atlantic Pizzeria.  Keep in mind that these videos aren't necessarily all strung together.  Also, a lot of them are live and un-edited.  If an occasional bad word comes out, don't be surprised.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Coming up in the immediate future; other videos!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy #12: South Freeport To Be Without Power Until November 3rd!


In what is now our twelfth update about Hurricane Sandy, I've got some rather unfortunate news.  According to Facebook posts as well as the Freeport NY homepage, the entire area south of Atlantic Avenue in Freeport is going to be without power until November 3rd.  That's Saturday, in case we're counting.  Before you read on, PLEASE do yourself the favor of reading the posting yourself.  I do not intend to repeat it while making my case.

The decision has, according to the Freeport Facebook page, been made by Mayor Hardwick and the Village Trustees (minus Kennedy, an expert in this field from my understanding, who apparently could not be there?) in order to reduce the risk of fires.  We've already seen what a fire caused by a wet circuit breaker can do.  The idea of a controlled shut-down had never been implemented before, nor suggested (to my knowledge) until immediately before it was executed, but in principle it isn't a bad one.  Keeping the power out for a little longer isn't a bad plan at all!  Our emergency staff has already been working super-hard for hours upon hours, and unnecessary risks are not what they deserve at this point.  They deserve a chance to rest, and they deserve our admiration.

In the moment, safety comes first.


Before the moment, planning comes before passivity, because planning leads to safety.

There are many people south of Merrick Road who chose not to evacuate because, in past storms (Hurricane Gloria, Hurricane Irene), they were able to weather it.  I'm not advocating this, but if a home-owner chooses to take a risk knowing that they have a certain geographic advantage (say, they are located at the top of a hill that has never, in twenty-five years, even come close to flooding), they are doing it with certain thoughts in mind.  Among them is uncertainly, "As long as I have electricity, I can run a pump."  In fact, many people who did evacuate reasoned that they could still run pumps in order to keep their possessions as safe as possible.  Some I know of have even installed massive systems to do exactly this.

To my knowledge, Freeport has never voluntarily cut power during a storm, and to my knowledge it was not announced as part of any evacuation or emergency plan until, on Facebook, I saw scattered reports about it happening.

Again, I'm not saying this is a bad idea.  I'm saying that it is an idea which should have been made public to those who were going to stick it out, or leave their electrical systems running.  What should have been said, in the initial emergency briefings, was that active circuit breakers in flood zones could pose a serious fire risk, and that residents should in fact count on their power being cut if necessary.  It was, as I have had to point out all too frequently, a failure of communication.  In the heat of a crisis, these things happen.  It's easy to be irked, but it's impossible to fault the concept - it's just that one can wish information networks worked better, because there are just too many break-downs in communication.

So, naturally, we have another one:  We're now in the after-math of a storm and the Village is insisting that evacuated residents get an electrician to verify that their homes are okay to return to a powered state, one that won't even begin to be a reality until November 3rd.

I've got some very pointed questions...

1:  First and foremost, if residents have been evacuated, have no power, probably have no phones, and have no way of getting news...How exactly are they supposed to know of these criteria to get their power back?  Without a way to actually get this message, there is no chance of them taking heed - those without electricity will have extraordinary difficulties getting this message.

 - Edit:  Police will be delivering this message door to door, I am told.

2:  Who is supposed to pay for this seemingly-mandatory (we'll get to that) assessment?  Residents who are already cash-strapped?  Or the Village?

3:  How many electricians are actually available, and not already overwhelmed with work?  Will Village resources not spent in powering up the area be assigned to assisting residents?

4:  Since the Village can't actually precisely target a home for power restoration, and has to power up blocks/sections at a time, how is it going to practically mandate the evaluations and, more importantly, enforce the breaker-cutting order?  Especially in cases of evacuees who cannot return in time to shut down their breaker in the first place?

5:  Following 4, if there's no way to guarantee that all of an area's breakers can be shut down, why not just power everything back on as soon as possible, section by section, with rescue personnel on stand-by in the immediate surroundings to contain a disaster that is, essentially, unavoidable?  Or will an entire section have to wait because one or two breakers are not confirmed as offline?

6:  For businesses, schools, and residents who want to get in and try to salvage their possessions and property, say by pumping out their basements and drying out damaged rooms so they don't grow mold, without power that will be impossible - let alone actual operation/occupation.  What aid has the Village sought, on behalf of its residents, from State/Federal authorities, especially in compensation for a safety-inspired, Village-Issued shut-down leading to damages?

Again, I'm not suggesting we do anything un-safe, I'm just asking some questions about how exactly we are supposed to go about this recovery.  For residents who have been without power for two days, already, another three and a half can be the difference between life and death.  How long can we expect people to stay in shelters?  For those who might have already left their shelter to return home, only to find out they won't have any power (if, indeed, they find out!), how exactly are they expected to survive?

In one light, it's easy to say, "Well, this is a major disaster and you could have no power for any number of reasons."  However, a voluntary outage is not equal to a weather-caused one.  In most cases, when power can be restored it should be; only when a lack of safety can be empirically proven should it be prevented.  A small delay in restoring operation, after a flood of this magnitude, makes sense; but for an entire week?

At what point, I ultimately wonder, will the risks of starting the power back up be overshadowed by the risks of not having power?

Sandy #11: Photo Tour of Freeport

Hello again, Freeport!

So, Jay has posted the first fifty or so still-shots taken during our filming session, today.  Some of them, of me, are less-than-flattering, but here's some shots.  All images in the first section by Jason Bass and Jesse Pohlman.  The second section's shots were taken by Frank Napoli, owner of Atlantic Pizzeria, who asked us to get some photos and videos off of a memory card since he might not have power while we did.

Fiore Brothers'; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass
As you can see, above, we got there just before the fire department was called in.  Really random circumstances, but fortunately it didn't seem like a full-fledged fire started.  Thank you again to ALL of our emergency services heroes.

Sea Breeze Park; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass

Sea Breeze Park's boat-mooring was ripped apart by the storm.  What's really sad is that someone's boat was docked on it!  They're gonna have a hard time getting there.  The strangest part, on the other hand, is that there was a bunch of water pouring out of the broken pipes; the theory is that the water is coming from the hoses used to clean the boats off.

Near Sea Breeze; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass

Here we can see a boat that got flipped over.  Whether it's near its original place-of-rest or it washed up is hard to know.

Tropix; Jason Bass, Jesse Pohlman

Notice how the sign for Tropix is still 100% intact, down to the pine trees, but that the rest of the bar is demolished?  That's how Hurricanes are.  :/

Near Sea Breeze Park; Jason Bass, Jesse Pohlman

Wow.  This was one of the initial stunners; a dock, a bunch of downed poles, and plenty of standing water in the middle of a road.  It's not too far from the water, but it's not close, either.

Interviewing resident Daniel Wright; Jason Bass, Jesse Pohlman

This is Daniel Wright.  As I mentioned in Update #10, he told us about how the fire at Tropix/Fiore Bros' went, and informed us about how water damaged his building.  He's a brave soul!

Bryant and Branch; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass

Here's that house on the corner of Bryant and Branch.

Bryant and Branch; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass

In this second shot, you can make out how the burned house has an active pipe spewing water.

A Boat; Jason Bass, Jesse Pohlman

I don't have cross-streets for this shot available, but just look at it.  At best, it's one that slipped off of it's trailer right next door.  At worst, it's traveled quite far.

Long Beach; Jason Bass, Jesse Pohlman

This was one of our favorite shots.  It's not the only abandoned vehicle, but this one is just...Screwed.  One, it's surrounded by water you do not want to risk walking in.  Two, that water dragged a bunch of sand out from the ocean and into the road, and in this case it's probably gotten at least part of the wheels trapped.

Long Beach; Jesse Pohlman, Jason Bass

And here's another one!

The above pictures are from the album:  All pictures below are by Frank Napoli, and come from this album.

We also received images from Frank Napoli, owner of Atlantic Pizzeria.  These were taken at night, last night.

Photo by Frank Napoli
Photo by Frank Napoli

These two pics above really fit into the "Ship, ahoy!" category.

Photo by Frank Napoli

This is a daring shot, of the "do not try this at home" variety!

Photo by Frank Napoli

Here's the view down Guy Lombardo.  Note that this is before high-tide fully kicked in.

Photo by Frank Napoli

So there you have it.  There's plenty of links above, plenty of other shots, but these are just some choice images of Freeport immediately before and after (not in that order, of course!) the storm.  As we access more pictures - and video! - be sure to stay tuned to The Weekly Freeporter!

And don't hesitate to check in on Atlantic Pizzeria, the best pizza in Freeport!

Sandy #10: Early Photos, Survey


Your loyal staff, myself and Jason Bass, decided to journey as far south into Freeport as we could find.  Jay brought a video camera, and I took a few quick shots as we went to investigate.  As we begin to take stock of what exactly hit us last night, I have to admit that in all of my twenty-eight years, I've never seen a storm as bad as Hurricane Sandy has been.

When we drove through North Freeport, we saw downed trees and power lines; the norm, one could say, for a hurricane.  We were impressed, but it wasn't anything unusual.

Down at the corner of Archer and Church streets, we checked in on a friend's parents.  Outside, we found the first of many manhole-covers which were bubbling over; the water from them was dribbling right into a nearby storm-drain, making me worry about how much water was still in town.

Then we got to Randall Park and Giblyn School, and we saw how much water there still was, even at a relatively low tide time.  We spoke to school staff, and they informed us of the obvious; the building had water in it.  We investigated my (dad's) house, and the basement was filled with water; oh, and the ground smelled vaguely like oil, from where oil containers had gotten loose.  It was bad, but was it really the nightmare that the news was painting it as?


The Nautical Mile

We went up the Nautical Mile and we saw boats knocked over, entire gangplanks flipped out of the water and onto the land, and property damaged abound - entire buildings were lifted up and displaced.  Then, we got to the "big fish" of the news night; Tropix and Fiore Brothers Fish Market.  The scene was saddening, alright; the buildings were collapsed, charred.  It was pretty bad, alright.

Then we saw the fire department's lights behind us.

Hose #1, Hose #4, and even Floral Park trucks rolled up on the scene.  I thought I saw hints of smoke.  They investigated, and one of the firemen suggested that a secondary fire might emerge.  After all, he said, the flooding made it impossible to properly put it out the first time.  He informed us that this fire, along with others in Freeport, were probably caused by people who evacuated and forgot (it's not a common thought) to turn off their fuse boxes.

We also spoke to Daniel Wright (video will hopefully follow!), he told us that his building, the condos right next to Sea Breeze park, had flooded up to the first floor.  He'd also seen (and is hopefully in possession of pictures of!) the fires at Tropix and Fiore Bros.  He'd never seen anything like it; and we hadn't either.

And we weren't up to the biggest shock of the day.

Charred Houses

Very early into Sandy's assault, we heard rumors that houses had gone up in flames.  We searched for the location of one of them, on Bryant street, and found it at the corner of Branch and Bryant.

As you can see, the house looks like it was sliced off by some kind of laser beam.  Chances are the circuit breaker blew and the house went on fire.  What was really shocking about this scene wasn't the smell (it was severe), but rather the bath-tub that was suspended by its plumbing and nothing else; the pipe, impossible to see in this picture, that was still hooked up to a water source and spouting water.

Oh, we saw some other brutal stuff.  We saw boats crashed into houses; docks strewn across streets; cars crushed - nice ones, too!; buildings flooded.  It was ugly.

But none of it compared to that house.


We decided we wanted food, and swung by Atlantic Pizzeria.  They had no electricity, but they were still open because until recently they'd had gas, and could cook.  They were happy to warm up any food that they still had sitting around, so we had slices of pizza!

The owner, Frank, told us about how last night he and his co-workers had gotten stuck in the storm.  They were okay - their storefront held out, although the back door wasn't exactly stable - but they had filmed how people were walking up and down Atlantic Avenue in the storm.  One fool was carrying a child above his head.  Another person attempted a rescue via boat, only to need to be pushed along by his quarry.  Oh, and a car floated by, too.

Once we'd eaten, we decided to explore outside of Freeport.  We decided, on a laugh, to go to Long Beach.

The Local Long Island Community

We took Atlantic Avenue west to Oceanside Road, then took that south to Long Beach.  We found some downed trees; nothing new.

So we went to Long Beach.  On the way to the actual beach, we were asked what we were doing there.  We were reminded a mandatory evacuation was still in effect; news, to us!

I recognize that Freeport had it bad.  No two ways about it, and I'm not trying to trivialize what our community has suffered.  Long Beach, on the other hand, looked twice as bad.  The boardwalk was ripped up and damaged; then there was the retaining wall of the boardwalk which couldn't be found where it belonged - or anywhere, for that matter.  The roads were covered with sand, so much so that entire hills existed.  Some of those hills had consumed cars.

We investigated some of the damage to the buildings, then watched the ocean for a bit.

We decided to head home.  On our way, we saw a number of national guard humvees (They had a very strong Long Beach presence) getting hooked up to one of those stuck cars.  We were admonished, again, that a curfew was in place and that we should get lost.  We did, mainly because it was starting to rain again and we didn't want any part of the rising waters.

Our respect goes out to those who have helped to save people.

Our sympathies to those who have lost property.

Our video recordings...Hopefully soon! - We've already got stills from the shoot up here!

Be safe!

Sandy #9: Rumors and Reporting


As I just got power back on at my Hurricane Hideaway, I wanna share what I've heard versus what I know for facts.

I've heard of multiple house fires, caused by water hitting electrical boxes I suppose.  Some of these rumors are definitely true, though some have been dismissed as "potential problems" that never manifested.  To those that lost homes, my best wishes are with you.

Moving on to the subject of lost businesses, I'm afraid the news isn't very good.  On the radio (880 AM I believe, I could be wrong as the radio's display is busted.), I heard that Tropix Nightclub and the Fiore fish market burned down.  Sadly, those are probably realities.  I also know that, fires aside, the Village elected to cut electricity to the southern part of the Village to prevent further outbreaks.  The problem is this may have damned some peoples' homes, people who had pumps set up to bail out their basements, before the water got to the first floor.

Then again, it couldn't be helped.  Ninety percent of Long Island was out of power, though clearly it's coming back online relatively rapidly.

My colleague Jason and I are going to (Very carefully!  No driving into floods for us!) do some surveying of the Village to see what the state of it all is, and maybe bring back some pictures.  We're not professionals, so don't expect us to go swimming in the Canal!

Be safe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Update #8: Power Outages, Flooding, 911 Use


At this point, evacuation is no longer possible.  That goes for everyone in the area.  At this point, just get to the top floor if you can, and make sure you ration food/water.  If it's not too late, and if you're at all worried about water, fill up your bath-tub.  Don't use elevators.

I'm watching Michael Bloomberg's press conference and he raised a really interesting point:  911 is not for things like downed trees.  Power lines is a grayer area since they can electrocute people, but general debris/flooding/fallen trees are not something you call 911 for.  911 is for emergencies.  Call the power company for power outages, and I would assume you call the Village in general for broken trees that block roads, etc.

Flooding:  It's being reported in the south, and the winds are pushing the water up the street.  This is what we, as Freeporters, have been born and bred to deal with, but it isn't easy.  It's going to be severe, some of the worst we've had in the past fifteen years.

POWER OUTAGE:  We've got reports coming in of a transformer fire near the CVS on Atlantic and Bayview, knocking out electricity to that area of the Village.  It seems like the outages are to the north and west.

Extending Cell-Phone Life:  Depending on your phone situation, you may or may not have a phone that works without electricity.  If you depend on a cell-phone and also have a laptop, my advice is to keep that laptop as charged as you can.  If you lose power, you can wait until your cell is low, then plug it into the laptop and let the laptop charge it back up.  That'll extend your ability to communicate by a half a day or more.

Finally, I'm getting a lot of flickers.  I've even had circuit resets.  This could be my last update for a while.  Be safe, take care of yourselves and each other.

Sandy #7: Andrew Cuomo says "Last Chance" to get out

Hello again, Freeport,

So far, no darkness here at my Hurricane Hideaway (my girlfriend's).  Here's the latest...

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Nassau Executive Ed Mangano, and Suffolk Executive Steve Bellone (namecheck?) just finished up a presentation, along with other emergency management officials, as to what the status of the area is.  Here's what we know...

 - After ignoring a mandatory evacuation notice, a number of Fire Island residents realized they were indeed crazy and started requesting aid in evacuating.  Fourteen were successfully rescued, at the cost of only an emergency vehicle.  Others were not candidates for assistance, and have been abandoned.  This emphasizes very clearly how serious this storm is.

 - Governor Cuomo has already closed the Tappan-Zee Bridge, and many others (including the Throgg's Neck) are closing around 7:00, if not earlier.  In short, many of the ways off of Long Island are being shut down.  If you want to get off the island, now is the time.

 - The Hurricane is reaching land a little earlier than planned.  This means it may leave a little earlier, maybe, but there's no way to be sure.

 - Approximately two thousand National Guardsmen have been called up in NYS; one thousand are recently activated, and many of them are headed to Long Island to help out.

 - Finally, and most importantly, if you want to get out of the flood zones, you have maybe another thirty minutes.  Find a friend, a family member, or a local shelter.  Get out.  If you were thinking of riding this storm out, you might well be wrong.  Especially if you are not experienced at this kind of thing; get out.  Just do it.  You aren't the only one you're responsible for; if you later need help, you're putting rescue personnel at risk.

Some other facts and news tidbits...

 - ABC News:  An old boat sunk off-shore.  14/16 of the crew have been found, but two are still missing.

 - To the best of my knowledge, the damaged crane in NYC is still clinging on to it's building.

 - We're getting a lot of wind on Long Island; New Jersey is getting a lot of the rain.

- About 200,000 without power in the region.  Con Edison may choose to shut down some areas of NYC if there is risk to the basic infrastructure.  I've heard reports of 10,000,000 people standing at risk of losing power for at least some time.

Be safe.

Sandy #6: NYC Nightmares, Approximate Landfall Time


I need to be kind of quick, here, because where I'm at my power is a little unsteady.

First things first; as reported by, a construction crane in NYC (57th street, 7th avenue I believe) has been seriously damaged.

Image via Breaking News

This incident being broadcast all over the place, though my broadcast-of-choice is WABC Eyewitness News.  With these high winds (at that altitude, with that exposure, they can hit 100 MPH), it's almost impossible to think of fixing the crane at this point.  That means it can fall.  That means if you're in the area, take care of yourself.

Additionally, WABC suggested that Hurricane Sandy's landfall is going to be in approximately three hours.  (6:00 PM).  It should be hitting about in the Jersey Shore area (Inappropriately timed jokes?  Nah.), which is a little bit better than a direct hit on Long Island - for us, but not for Jersey.  Atlantic City has been hit hard, from what I'm hearing.

As reported in my last update, high tide is going to be at about 8:00-9:00 PM, and it's a full-moon as well.  That means we're getting about the maximum height we can get out of this storm.  Wind gusts can hit up to 70+ miles an hour, and that's a conservative estimate.  I've heard up to 90, but those are hard to sustain.

Once again, there's not going to be any schools open in Freeport, tomorrow.  That's a good thing.  At this point, if you need to get any emergency supplies, you have maybe an hour before it's completely insane.  Stores are being closed as we speak, and if you aren't prepped by now, well, it's not good.  Don't go out unless you absolutely need to.  Stay away from windows.

Be safe.  Unless (until?) I go dark, I'll be keeping people posted on every scrap of information I can get!

Weather Woes, School Closures, Live Video; Sandy Update #5

Hello Freeport,

By now I'm sure you've heard there's this thing called a Hurricane, with the name of Sandy, coming to town. Unlike it's little sister Irene, who visited us last year, Sandy is kinda crazy.  So crazy, well...I need to give you all the run-down.

First of all, according to the Freeport School District's webpage, they have announced school closures for tomorrow, Tuesday the 30th.  This is in addition to today's closure.

Second, Freeport artist Rick Avolin has sent in a link to a live-feed webcam from the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach.  It's actually kind of fascinating; right now, as I write, the tide isn't that high, but I'm sure as time goes on it'll rise.  It's a nice thing to see because Long Beach is in front of us, and it'll give you some clue as to how things are going to effect us in the immediate future.  Also, it's really weird to see all the people wandering around on the boardwalk!

Oh.  The next high tide is around 9:00 PM, so 8 hours from when this article goes up, let's say.

(Editorial note:  I mis-read my original source and, before editing the above line, said the tide would be high around 4:00.  Instead, that's when the tide will be low.  My apologies; thank you to Fred Deppert for pointing out the error.)

I've heard reports of a fire on Branch street, but I've also heard it's been contained.

If anyone has any pictures they'd like to submit, please don't hesitate.  As always, I'll give you full credit, plus a link to any website you happen to run/like/work for.

Above all, be safe.