Fire Island National Seashore reopens after Hurricane Irene

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Date: August 30, 2011

Patchogue, New York- Fire Island National Seashore Superintendent Chris Soller announced today that the National Park Service (NPS) expects to have most of its facilities and programs fully operational by Labor Day weekend, although a few structures and boardwalks will remain closed until repairs can be completed. As a result of Hurricane Irene's arrival to New York on August 27 and 28, many portions of Fire Island were overwashed by ocean waves and pummeled by high winds, resulting in some impact to the island's infrastructure. "Overall, we've fared quite well during this storm," stated Soller, "with minimal damage to facilities. Despite numerous overwashes, due to the southwest winds, an accretion of sand was noted on the majority of Fire Island's Atlantic shoreline."

In anticipation of landfall of a Category 1 or greater storm, a mandatory evacuation of Fire Island was ordered by Suffolk County and the towns of Islip and Brookhaven, effective 3 p.m. on Friday, August 26. The last of the ferries transported passengers off Fire Island early on Saturday, August 27, and electric power for all of Fire Island had been turned off by the Long Island Power Authority late Saturday. As damage assessments are made and power is restored, Fire Island facilities and service are reopening both in the Seashore, and in the communities on Fire Island.

Park headquarters and the Seashore's Patchogue offices reopened on Monday, August 29, with Internet access and phone service restored by Tuesday. The West District Checkpoint on Fire Island also reopened late Monday.

The Wilderness Visitor Center, at the southernmost end of William Floyd Parkway, reopened on Tuesday, August 30, by 10 a.m., since power was restored and the bridge to Smith Point County Park reopened. Wilderness backcountry camping permits will not be issued until Wednesday, August 31.

The Fire Island Lighthouse will reopen Wednesday, August 31. Although the bridge to Robert Moses State Park and access to its western parking lots (Fields 2 & 3) reopened on Tuesday, the state park's westernmost parking lot at Field 5 is not expected to open before Wednesday. Restrooms at the West District Checkpoint are operational, but access to Seashore portions of the beach will be affected by the damaged boardwalks, which are now closed and are not expected to be repaired before Labor Day weekend.

At Watch Hill and Sailors Haven, the marinas, snack bars, visitor centers and lifeguarded beaches, and the walk-in campground at Watch Hill, will reopen Wednesday, August 31. This allows time for marina and boardwalk repairs to be completed and for channel markers to be located and repositioned. Reservations for the Watch Hill Marina may be taken on the day of arrival at 631-597-3109. Although limited access to the Fire Island communities began Tuesday morning, ferry service from Patchogue to Watch Hill and from Sayville to Sailors Haven will not resume until Wednesday, August 31.

The William Floyd Estate is open from Friday through Sunday and holidays, so visitation to this site should not be interrupted. Many trees on the 613-acre estate were toppled, including two historic locust trees which have fallen against the Old Mastic House. Initial assessments indicate that there was little damage to the structure, and tours of the Old Mastic House-the birthplace of one of New York's signers of the Declaration of Independence-are expected to resume on Friday.

On Fire Island, the docks at Old Inlet and Barrett Beach will remain closed until structural damages can be repaired, but the sites remain open. Boaters in all parts of the Great South Bay should be alert for debris, shifting sand bars or other hazards in the water.

Additional updates about the Seashore's reopening will be posted at twitter.com/FireIslandNPS. For more information about Fire Island National Seashore, visit the park's web site at www.nps.gov/fiis.

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Fire Island Lighthouse before and after Tropical Storm Irene: 8-27-2011 and 8-30-2011
A large volume of sand was moved onto Fire Island's beaches during Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene on August 28-29, 2011. In several areas, sand was overwashed into the swale or the interior of the island.

NPS Photo/Rafferty

 
8-30-11 Boardwalk to Lighthouse Damaged
Many Fire Island boardwalks were damaged during the storm, but beaches in most areas were built up by an accretion of sand.

NPS photo/Dunphy

 
8-29-11 Barrett Beach Dock damage
As a team of National Park Service employees surveyed damages on August 29, they found that many bayside piers and docks were undermined during the storm, leaving many unusable until repairs can be made.
 
Barrett Beach dock damage on 08-30-2011
Due to structural damage along the bay shoreline, the Barrett Beach dock has been closed. With the loading/unloading dock out of service, all Barrett Beach/Talisman boaters and passengers (and all their gear) will have to be brought to shore by wading through the water.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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