Jose’s effect: What we saw on Long Island

Jose brought gusty winds and dangerous surf on Wednesday, but Long Island was spared the potential wrath of the storm that has alternated between hurricane and tropical strength as it trekked northeast this week.

Still, officials were prepared for the worst with members of the National Guard and a search-and-rescue team deployed here; and a fleet of emergency vehicles and tools at the ready.

Newsday reporters, too, were stationed in areas where flooding and power outages were feared. Here’s what they saw.

5:30 a.m.

Wind gusts are the only evidence of Jose on the East End.

7 a.m.

Waves bite at the beach in Montauk, and farther west, mini-dunes stand in waiting.

Flooding on the beach road in Montauk #longisland

A post shared by Mark Harrington (@mhlongisland) on


Pounding surf from Hurricane Jose has largely eaten the beach at #montauk #longisland #jose @newsday @news12li

A post shared by Mark Harrington (@mhlongisland) on


Surf overtakes the erosion fence at Montauk #longisland

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8 a.m.

Trying to prepare for high tide.

9 a.m.

Flooding on Dune Road and giant sea swells in Montauk (but neither was stopping at least one driver and fisherman).


11 a.m.

High surf and swells in Montauk. Officials said some erosion was expected at Montauk’s Hither Hills State Park.

Surf and sand overtake the stairs at #Montauk #longisland @newsday @news12li #jose

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Montauk Point after Jose #montauk #longisland @newsday

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Tips and numbers you need in a storm

ELECTRICITY AND GAS

ELECTRIC
Electric outages and downed power lines should be reported to PSEG by calling 800-490-0075 or online by signing in to your PSEG account.

GAS
Gas leaks should be reported to National Grid by calling the Gas Emergency Line at 800-490-0045.

WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE

FEMA recommends having a disaster kit that includes:
Three-day supply of nonperishable food
Three-day supply of water, or 1 gallon of water per person per day
Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
Flashlight and extra batteries
Sanitation and hygiene items, such as moist towelettes and toilet paper
Matches and a waterproof container
Whistle
Extra clothing
Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a hand-operated can opener
Photocopies of credit and identification cards
Cash and coins
Special-needs items, such as prescription medications, eyeglasses, contact lens solutions and hearing-aid batteries
Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles and pacifiers
Other items to meet your family’s needs

OTHER TIPS
Fill up vehicles with fuel.
Listen to local officials.
Pick people to call who are on and off the Island in case you become separated from family members.
Never use portable generators indoors, in garages or near open windows

FOOD SAFETY

If electrical power is lost:
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. An unopened
refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a couple of hours.
If it looks like power will be out for more than two to four
hours, put refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish,
poultry, eggs, gravy, stuffing and leftovers into a cooler
surrounded by ice.
If the refrigerator was out for more than two to four hours,
discard the perishable items.
A freezer that is half-full will hold for up to 24 hours; a full
freezer for 48 hours. If it appears the power outage will be
prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for freezer items.
If the freezer is fairly full and it has been without power for less than 24 hours, food should be safe. Expect a loss of quality with refreezing.
Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with
floodwater. If in doubt, discard it.
Do not eat food packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth
and similar containers that have been water-damaged.
Discard food and beverage containers with screw-caps,
snap lids, crimped caps (soda bottles), twist caps, flip tops
and home-canned foods if they have come in contact with floodwater. These containers cannot be disinfected.

LOCAL CONTACTS

NASSAU
North Hempstead:
Call 311 or 516-TOWN-311 (516-869-6311) for a service representative or go to northhempstead.com.
Hempstead:
Call 516-489-5000 or visit townofhempstead.org.
Oyster Bay:
Go to oysterbaytown.com or call highway department to report downed trees at 516-677-5757.
City of Glen Cove:
Go to glencove-li.us or call the Department of Public Works at 516-676-4402.
City of Long Beach:
Visit longbeachny.org or call City Hall at
516-431-1000.

SUFFOLK
Babylon:
Visit townofbabylon.com or call the public safety department at 631-422-7600 to report downed trees.
Brookhaven:
Call the highway department at 631-451-9200 to report downed trees or visit brookhaven.org.
East Hampton:
Go to ehamptonny.gov or call the highway department to report roadway obstructions at 631-324-0925.
Huntington:
Visit huntingtonny.gov or call its 24-hour emergency number, 631-271-6573, or for downed trees, 631-499-0444.
Islip:
Visit townofislip-ny.gov or call 631-224-5600 to report downed trees or power lines.
Riverhead:
Call the storm hotline at 631-727-3200 or visit
townofriverheadny.gov.
Smithtown:
Call the Public Safety Department at 631-360-7553.
Southampton:
Go to southamptontownny.gov or call 631-283-6000.
Southold:
Visit southoldtownny.gov or call 631-765-1800.
Shelter Island:
Visit shelterislandtown.us or call 631-749-0291.

TRANSPORTATION UPDATE

Fire Island Ferries, Bay Shore:
All service canceled for Tuesday. Decision will be made Tuesday afternoon on Wednesday service.
Sayville Ferry Service:
All passenger service will be suspended Tuesday after the 3:30/4 p.m. Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove boats. Decision’s on Wednesday’s service will be made Tuesday.

Jose On The Way: How To Track The Storm

A hurricane – and its forecast – are moving targets. As Jose makes its way north, forecasters are closely monitoring the storm’s conditions and movements in order to update their outlook accordingly.

If you want to keep up with the latest on Jose, here are some links and resources you can check regularly, as the forecast continues to be fine-tuned.

A rundown of local watches, warnings and advisories

Click here to see conditions for your town

Where Jose’s center is expected to go and when

National Hurricane Center forecasters plot the storm’s track, using a cone-shaped image. The cone shows the range of potential paths for the center of the storm and is not indicating the size of the storm overall and where major impacts may be. There can be plenty of impacts outside that cone.

The image also shows color-coded areas where watches and warnings have been issued

Click here for latest version



Here, find an interactive map showing potential wind speeds.

Click here for latest version



The cone of uncertainty: It’s not called that for nothing. The cone’s track record? “Statistically, two-thirds of all cyclones stay within this cone, while one-third strays outside the cone,” according to a briefing from the weather service’s Upton office.

More on the cone of uncertainty

What storms look like from space

GOES-16 is the most advanced weather satellite NOAA has ever developed. It detects conditions from far above Earth.

Click here to see Jose

How strong the winds will be

You can see here the probabilities for sustained wind speeds of 39 mph or more.

Click here for latest version

When the winds will come

There are two options for viewing this map for residents with varying risk tolerance when it comes to making outdoor preparations.

Those with low risk tolerance, who want to get things done well in advance, can see the “earliest reasonable” times to expect tropical force winds to start. (Pictured below, as of Monday afternoon)

Others can click the “most likely” time option. (It’s a new tool, updated with new forecasts, from the National Hurricane Center.)

Click here for latest version



Rain – how much?

Rain, and other impacts, are dependent on the storm’s ultimate strength and track. A track farther to the west means more rain for the Island – to the east, less.

Click here for latest version



News updates on Twitter

Your forecasters are on social media, too. Keep track of their tweets for the latest information.

  @NWSNewYorkNY:

National Weather Service New York’s latest tweets

  @NWSEastern:

National Weather Service Eastern Region’s latest tweets

  @NHC_Atlantic:

National Hurricane Center’s latest tweets for the Atlantic region

Unaccompanied minors on Long Island: Everything you need to know

How many unaccompanied minors are there on Long Island?

Long Island has received more than 8,500 children and teenagers who were resettled in Nassau and Suffolk counties as unaccompanied minors since their migration saw a surge in the 2014 fiscal year, according to placement figures issued by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Of those, 3,858 moved to Nassau County and 4,702 moved to Suffolk County in that period spanning more than three years.

Where are they coming from?

Most children who have been apprehended crossing the border this year also are from Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras, according to statistics from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, though those from Mexico are routinely sent back to their homeland, since they don’t qualify for the same anti-trafficking and resettlement protections that have sent many to the Long Island region.


Where are they settling?

Unaccompanied minors are placed with relatives and other sponsors in counties across the United States, but Long Island ranks high on resettlement figures because many of the children are looking to reunite with relatives among the Salvadoran and Honduran communities already established in the region. The top counties for resettlement, so far this federal fiscal year, are Los Angeles (California); Harris (Texas); Prince George’s (Maryland) and Suffolk County. Nassau County places 10th in the nation for that migration in 2017.

Counties taking 50 minors or more

  • Up to 200
  • Up to 500
  • Up to 1,500
  • More than 1,500

Click here to see how the figures have changed since 2014.

When did the influx start and why?

Unaccompanied children have trekked north and across the U.S.-Mexico border for decades from countries in Central America, but their numbers rose significantly in 2014 due to a combination of factors, according to migration experts and other observers — chief among them, continued violence attributed to gangs, persistent poverty and lack of opportunities, and the implementation of anti-trafficking protections offering safe shelter for those children in the United States.

How do they end up on Long Island?

Children are placed by law in the less restrictive environment and are generally resettled with relatives already in the United States. Many seek to reunite with a parent on Long Island. They may also be placed with sponsors who are friends of the family or acquaintances. According to ORR, sponsors “are adults who are suitable to provide for the child’s physical and mental well-being and have not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child.”

What happens when they get here?

Unaccompanied minors stay with their relatives or sponsors and, in most cases, enroll in school in their new communities while they await immigration proceedings to determine their immigration status in the long run. Many qualify for a designation known as “Special Immigrant Juvenile,” which entitles those migrant children abandoned by one or both parents to legal permanent residence in the United States. In order to pursue that status, they go through custody hearings in county family courts. Others apply for asylum in immigration court. Their sponsors, who have to pass a background check before a child is released to them, agree to ensure the children follow up on required immigration procedures.


How does this affect the community?

Some communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties have received more children each year, because those are the places where their sponsors reside. As a result, a handful of school districts have had to accommodate hundreds of unaccompanied minors each year, as public schools are required to educate them under federal and state laws. School administrators, law enforcement officials and immigrant community advocates all seem to agree that they would like to see the federal government commit more funding and resources to communities where the children are resettled. Legislation seeking additional funding has stalled in Congress as only some parts of the country are substantially affected by their migration.

Mapping the Long Island 2017 primary election

Long Islanders went to the polls on Sept. 12 to vote in party primaries for local offices. In Nassau, they chose Laura Curran over George Maragos, 79 percent to 21 percent in unofficial tallies, for the Democratic nomination for county executive. Democrats also picked Jack Schnirman over Ama Yawson, 57 percent to 43 percent, for county comptroller. Here are district results in those two races; click on any shape for details. Percentages are based on total votes cast for the two candidates and do not include absentee ballots. Districts that tied or saw no voting are colored yellow.

District winners, with % of vote, for county executive

  • Curran up to 65%
  • Curran up to 90%
  • Curran over 90%
  • Maragos up to 65%
  • Maragos up to 90%
  • Maragos over 90%

District winners, with % of vote, for county comptroller

  • Schnirman up to 65%
  • Schnirman up to 90%
  • Schnirman over 90%
  • Yawson up to 65%
  • Yawson up to 90%
  • Yawson over 90%

Long Island income, poverty and health insurance

Estimates of the median household income on Long Island rose in 2016, to $105,870 in Nassau and $92,933 in Suffolk, while the percentage of Long Islanders who did not have health insurance fell and the percentage of Long Islanders living below the poverty line remained essentially flat. Those were all according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey released on Sept. 14, 2017. The charts below illustrate the three measures. The income figure is the point at which half the households have higher income and half have lower, and the figures going back to 2012 are adjusted for inflation. The national median is $59,059.

Javascript charts via amCharts

How Suffolk voted in sheriff’s primary

Larry Zacarese scored an upset victory over Phil Boyle in the Republican primary for Suffolk County sheriff Tuesday, according to unofficial results provided by the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Zacarese had 12,323 votes to Boyle’s 9,586 in a count that did not include absentee ballots. This map shows the results by election district. Click on any shape for details. Any you can read more about the sheriff’s race here.

Primary results

  • Zacarese
  • Zacarese by 15%+
  • Boyle
  • Boyle by 15%+
  • Tie

How Smithtown voted in the primary

Separated by a handful of votes, with a few hundred absentee ballots not yet counted, Smithtown GOP candidates Edward Wehrheim and incumbent Patrick Vecchio are locked in a battle for their party’s nomination for town supervisor. Here are the unofficial votes broken down by election district in the town.

Primary results

  • Wehrheim
  • Wehrheim by 15%+
  • Vecchio
  • Vecchio by 15%+
  • Tie

A 9/11 symbol grows up: The journey of Long Island’s Patricia Smith

A mom and a hero

Smith is counted among 3,000 children who lost a parent when the Twin Towers were struck in 2001. She was in diapers at the time and as she grew older, she faced a challenge: How could she get to know a mother she couldn’t remember?

Moira Smith was born and raised in Brooklyn. She joined the NYPD in 1988 and quickly became a decorated officer, rescuing people from a 1991 subway crash that earned her a Distinguished Duty Medal.

She was outgoing and she liked taking road trips. She loved being a mother to Patricia, who was born in 1999.

“Thanksgiving is huge and St. Patrick’s Day is huge in my family,” Patricia said. “We’d be sitting at the table and people would be telling stories and my mom was always in them. She was always at the center, she was the life of the party.”

Then comes the part that’s taken Patricia years to accept. NYPD Officer Moira Smith gathered a group of her fellow officers and raced to the Twin Towers. She was last seen pulling victims from the towers before they collapsed. She was 38.

“When I was younger, it was always this happened to me and happened to my family. Why?” Patricia said. “But this didn’t just happen, that’s who my mom was. She wasn’t going to turn a blind eye.”


Early memories

It was Patricia’s red velvet dress that captured the attention. On Dec. 4, 2001, she accompanied her father to Carnegie Hall for an NYPD medal ceremony, where Mayor Rudy Giuliani presented her with her mother’s gold medal.

The photo was one of the first published of Patricia and one of her favorites.

She has fuzzy memories of getting ready, of having her hair curled and done up with a big red bow to match her dress. She and her father were supposed to walk out in front of the crowd. It was a serious event, but one she didn’t understand at the time.

“We were waiting at the stage entrance and I ripped the bow out of my hair, my nice hair, and handed it to my dad,” she said.

James didn’t have anywhere to put it. Seconds before the ceremony began, he wrapped it around his fingers as he held Patricia’s hand. The photo now hangs on the wall in her father’s home.

'They had our back'

The Smith family held a memorial service for Moira Smith at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in February 2002, the month before her body was recovered.

It was on Valentine’s Day, Moira’s favorite holiday and birthday, and the turnout was enormous. The size of the church also dwarfed little Patricia.

She remembers being struck by the enormity of the crowd, the hundreds of police officers dressed in blue.

“It was shocking. I didn’t understand at that point why they were all there,” she said.

As an adult, the memory means more to her now, she said.
“I came to realize that was her family, and it’s our family too,” she said. “They had our back the whole time.”

A family portrait

For Patricia, losing a parent at a young age has meant that family photos mean more.

Nearly a year after the attacks, Patricia and her father attended a memorial service for officers killed in the line of duty. On Sept. 9, 2002, officials added the names of the 23 NYPD officers who died to a memorial wall.

“It’s weird, this one kind of makes me happy because I don’t have too many full family photos of me, my mom and my dad,” Patricia said.

James Smith let a 3-year-old Patricia hold onto a replica of her mother’s badge in a wooden box during the ceremony.

“Holding the badge, that was her, she was there with us,” Patricia said.

“It might not be a full family photo, but it has that feel. It’s definitely a picture that’s pretty special.”

'There were lots of tears'

As Patricia grew to be a young child, she started to recognize that other families didn’t look like hers. Losing her mother stung in a way it hadn’t before. The attention and crowds had become an overwhelming reminder of Moira Smith’s absence.

Patricia clung to her father’s side when she needed comfort. But that wasn’t an option on Sept. 11, 2006, when he spoke at a five-year memorial service at Ground Zero, she said.

Patricia, then 7, remembers worrying about having to sit alone when he got up to speak. She was allowed to follow James on stage, but couldn’t hold his hand during the speech.

“He was my security blanket,” she said. “I was too afraid to look out, so that’s why I’m looking down and holding the flower.”

The somber photo of Patricia standing alone graced front pages, transforming her once again into a symbol of 9/11’s losses. But the image is significant to Patricia for an additional reason: “This was the first picture I remember being sad.”

Patricia said her childhood was marked by being part of a family in mourning, even five years after her mother’s death.

“Everything was really raw and people were still trying to come to terms with it. There was a lot of tears,” she said.

After each memorial event, Patricia and her family would all head to a restaurant for a big meal, a way to celebrate Moira and end the day on a happier note.

A turning point

As a young preteen, Patricia retreated from the spotlight for some time. The ceremonies year after year blended together.

“I went through a period where I didn’t want to talk to anybody, not newspapers or shows or anything like that,” she said. “I was just tired of repeating the story and having to rehash the emotions that came with it.”

Something changed after she turned 12, she said. She was offered the chance to speak at a 10th anniversary memorial service in 2011, and she agreed. It proved to be a turning point.

“I don’t know if it was a specific point that things changed, but this moment I think I fully realized it,” she said. “I was standing there and I was looking at a huge crowd of people and I was proud to be there.”

She doesn’t remember what she said, but she felt a sense of peace after her speech ended.

“I remember coming off the stage and I took a deep breath,” she said. “I knew we were representing my mom and the sacrifice she made. I felt we were standing up for something she would have wanted.”

Remembering her mom

Patricia and her father were the subject of a Newsday article in 2012.

It’s not easy to see photos of herself during her more awkward preteen years, Patricia said. She was 13 when a photographer snapped a photo of her in her East Hampton bedroom.

The shining star of the photo is her mother, she said. When the Smiths think of Moira, they picture her like this: smiling and in pearls. The photo of Moira is a universal favorite among their family members, Patricia said.

The Newsday story was the first time Patricia was given the opportunity to talk just about her mother. Not Moira the police officer or Moira the victim, just Moira the mom, who loved to laugh and doted on her daughter.

“This was more about talking about my mom as a person and not just a police officer. She is that but she’s much more than that too,” she said. “The smile captures who she was.”

Seeking justice

Once she felt a sense of duty to share her mother’s story, Patricia knew it was important to share her family’s fight for justice for 9/11 victims, too.

In May 2017, she and her father flew to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for the start of pretrial hearings of five detainees U.S. officials said were involved in planning 9/11.

She’d been offered the chance to go once before, but was on a service trip in Cambodia at the time. When the opportunity arrived again in 2017, Patricia said yes.

“At that point, going to Guantánamo, that was more for me and my family,” she said.

She rehearsed how she’d respond to seeing the five men. She tried to shake her jitters.

“I was handing my passport over to security going on the plane and I was shaking,” she said.

She was only there to observe the proceedings but it was a powerful moment, she said.

“I didn’t cry, I didn’t have a reaction because I didn’t want to give them a reaction,” she said.

A new journey

In August, Patricia moved to Alabama to start college, and she’s settled into her dorm.

Among cheerful pillows and elephant tapestries, she brought memories of Moira with her: photos of her mother holding Patricia as a baby, a necklace with Moira’s name.

Each Sept. 11 is a solemn one, but Monday’s will be different, a new marker on Patricia’s personal timeline. She’s had some experience reflecting alone on the anniversary of the attacks, but this time, she won’t be in New York.

“I’ve never been in a different state by myself on Sept. 11,” she said.
Alabama is different from New York, she said. People don’t talk about 9/11 the same way they do on Long Island.

“I haven’t heard anything about it yet here,” she said. “I know New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, we have strong connections to 9/11. I just figured people would be more reactive here.”

She will share her mother’s legacy through a few media interviews that day, and she plans to spend the evening with her new friends.

“My dad and family are big believers in celebrating my mom’s life,” she said. “We always ended the day on a positive note.”

Cashless Tolling: How It Works and Where You’ll Find It

Toll plazas – and the traffic that tends to come with them — will soon be a thing of the past for drivers going to and from Long Island via MTA crossings.

“Open road cashless tolling” is already in place at seven of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s nine crossings. The last of the toll booths — at the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges connecting the Bronx and Queens — will be taken down by the end of the next month, the agency says.

Here’s what that looks like

Manhattan-bound Queens Midtown Tunnel

before

after

Jan. 27, 2015; Photo credit: AP / Sept. 20, 2017; Photo credit: Jeff Bachner


There’s no need to stop or slow down. You just drive right through. Preliminary data indicates that has improved peak period travel times by between 4 percent and 20 percent, according to MTA Bridge and Tunnel spokesman Christopher McKniff.

Here’s how it works

Driving under the structure at normal speed, sensors determine whether your car has E-ZPass.

If you DO have E-ZPass, the toll is automatically deducted from your account.

If you DON’T have E-ZPass, a camera takes a picture of your license plate, and a bill is mailed to you.

Renderings courtesy MTA

And here’s where you’ll find them

What about the toll collectors?

“There’s still a need for us,” said Wayne Joseph, president of the Bridge and Tunnel Officers Benevolent Association, the union that represents them. Former toll collectors will be reassigned as MTA toll enforcement officers, who will help drivers adapt to the new system and understand what they owe.

No officers will lose their jobs due to cashless tolling.