2013-09-06 / Community

Remembering Irene


Two years ago Hurricane Irene toppled trees and flooded some areas, but did nothing to prepare us for Sandy. Photo by Laura Deckelman Two years ago Hurricane Irene toppled trees and flooded some areas, but did nothing to prepare us for Sandy. Photo by Laura Deckelman By Dan Guarino

All but eclipsed by the approaching shadow of Hurricane Sandy’s first year mark, Hurricane Irene’s second anniversary has come and gone with little fanfare or notice.

Hitting the New York area on August 27th and 28th, 2011, Irene had already blown through the Caribbean and up the east coast of the U.S.

Fifty-six deaths were attributed to Hurricane Irene. In the United States, damage estimates rose to nearly $15.6 billion, making it the seventh costliest hurricane in America’s history.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported that, “More than 300,000 people (were) evacuated from 'zone A' vulnerable areas in New York City. High tide at 8 a.m. in New York Harbour coincides with the height of the storm, creating the risk of widespread flooding in low-lying areas.”

Although Irene produced heavy damage over much of New York, especially upstate, many in Rockaway and Broad Channel deemed it a non-starter, as pre-storm news reports proved to be full of hype and fury, finally signifying nothing.

In Broad Channel, residents on Noel Road reported water rose to 1- 1 1/2 feet at morning high tide, and reached up to Cross Bay Boulevard but then receded back into Jamaica Bay.

In the Rockaways, trees were toppled, some flooding occurred and basements needed to be pumped out.

But as one Rockaway resident and business owner recently described it, “Irene was a sucker punch of a storm. It lulled us into a false sense of security; made us complacent.”

One year and two months later, Hurricane Sandy stormed ashore, capsizing New York, New Jersey and Connecticut coastal areas and drowning that complacency for good.

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