Hurricane Irene puts a damper on fun in the Hamptons

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 27, 2011 6:08 PM
Hurricane Irene puts a damper on fun in the Hamptons

By Christine Kearney

SOUTHAMPTON, NY. (Reuters) - The typically crowded streets of Long Island's posh Hamptons resort towns were quiet and many of the island's East End mansions shuttered tight on Saturday, awaiting a likely battering from Hurricane Irene.

Some 400,000 people in coastal towns along Long Island, including another popular resort, Fire Island, were under evacuation orders ahead of the storm, officials said.

Along Southampton's main street, boutique shops had boarded-up windows and signs reading: ""Don't be mean, Irene."

The eastern end of Long Island was badly damaged in a huge hurricane in 1938 that wiped out roads and houses and created the modern-day Shinnecock Inlet.

Southampton's Ernie Hulsey, who has lived in the resort village for 33 years, said locals "were very nervous," but said he figured the area's many affluent residents would weather the storm just fine.

"If you can afford to have a huge cottage, then you can afford the damages," he said.

Along some of the area's fanciest streets, such as Meadow Lane where celebrities such as Calvin Klein live, mansions appeared empty and their windows boarded up.

"There's no parties going on, that's for sure," said John Rist, owner of a local liquor store.

Along Long Island's north shore, also a wealthy area with multimillion dollar mansions and posh enclaves, "every village has areas of risk," said Peter Forman, commissioner of the Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management.

Although the north shore does not face the Atlantic Ocean, it fronts the Long Island Sound, where Irene could trigger a 4- to 8-foot storm surge, he said.

(Additional reporting by Arlene Getz in Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Tim Gaynor)