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Mother Nature Rocks Local Villages With Severe Storm

Roslyn Road home pummeled by trees, high winds

Michelle Dos Santos wanted to go to the bank. The Roslyn Road resident got just halfway down the street when a rogue storm wrung out a sopping wet towel in Mineola to the tune of heavily flooded streets, downed power lines and uprooted trees on Wednesday, Aug. 15. She was with her two children when the storm hit.

Dos Santos made it home just in time when the booms began. What started out as light rain continued with thunderous roars from the skies above, lightning strikes and treacherous roads not easily navigated. Second Street, just east of Roslyn Road, went from street to sea in a matter of minutes.

Almost one year to the day after Hurricane Irene hit Mineola, the village braved another storm. Dos Santos thinks this storm, although it petered out faster than Irene, packed a quick one-two punch of wind and water.

“We turned back and headed for home and just a few moments after we got into the house, it sounded like the world was ending,” Dos Santos said describing the noise emanating from outside her front door. “It was pretty scary.”

The mother of two was all set to get ready to pack for a trip upstate to Cooperstown with family. Her schedule was in order, but the storm threw the vacation a curveball.

“We’re still going, but we just have to get everything here in order,” Dos Santos said while observing the damage from across the street.

She called the police at 11:39 a.m. and stated police did not show up until about 1:20 p.m. Third Precinct police officials did not return calls from the Mineola American for comment.

“We got hit hard,” Mayor Scott Strauss said. “I was looking at my weather stream in my office in Great Neck and there was a nasty looking storm cell over Mineola. So I linked up with Tom Rini [and got down there] and the DPW guys were stopping vehicles from going into flood locations.”

Teams from the Village of Mineola along with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) were on the scene by mid-afternoon to clean up, remove a second tree that was on its last legs and to restore power. Dos Santos said concerning the tree, its days were numbered.

“That tree had been in bad shape,” she said. “We have been complaining about it for a while.”

The Department of Public Works (DPW) received approximately 15 phone calls ranging from fallen trees, flooding and power outages, according to DPW Superintendent Tom Rini. DPW arrived on the scene and, like the MFD, had to wait for LIPA to arrive to make sure downed power lines were dead.

“[LIPA] was coming on the scene as I got there to meet the mayor,” Rini said. “We had to wait for them to shut down that section of the [power] grid. They worked pretty fast. The time we got there, it was such a blur.”

Rini noted that Bruce Terrace was hit with massive flooding 30 minutes before East Second Street. Both streets feed into the same water line.

“Bruce [Terrace] was bad,” Rini stated. “The water from Bruce got [to East Second Street] first. The water [on Bruce Terrace] was flowing through the properties and there was flooding in some basements.”

The Bruce Terrace area has been the subject of much scrutiny and discussion regarding floods for decades. A project is in place with Mineola, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead to remediate the issues. According to Rini, he met with the county, the town and Strauss on Tuesday, Aug. 21 regarding county piping that will come through the area.

“We have one final piece that we have to coordinate with the county pipe coming into our area, then we’ll just be about ready to go out,” said Rini.

The Mineola Fire Department arrived on the scene at 12:18 p.m. First Assistant Chief Jeff Clark said this storm packed more of a punch than usual storms.

“It was a pretty powerful storm that came through the village,” Clark said. “We had about eight calls that came in simultaneously and the one on Roslyn Road seemed to be the most severe. There were trees down, wires down. There were people in the home. They were safe. No one was hurt but we told them to sit tight so that LIPA could get there and shut the power down. Public Works [Department] arrived and started to remove the trees shortly after.”

In other areas of the village, underpasses on Roslyn Road and at Jericho Turnpike near Elm Place were flooded and there were scenes of several submerged cars whose passengers had to be rescued. According to the LIPA Storm Outage website, 281 homes in Mineola were without power last Wednesday.

“Chief Clark and the fire department did a great job as they always do, as did the DPW,” Strauss said. “The one house on Roslyn Road was a problem but not any more serious than the other issues throughout the village.”