Superstorm Sandy, which devastated so much of the Jersey Shore and the South Shore of Long Island the end of last October, by comparison dealt the East End only a glancing blow. The biggest damage incurred was to our beaches (which, with the advent of the spring ocean currents that return sand taken away in winter, have begun to rebuild themselves) and to the trees. Like an airbrush tanning session, the wind-driven salt-laden air coated the leaves. As it was late Fall, the deciduous trees shed their leaves as usual. But the evergreen trees retained their spray tan…and because we had almost no rain in the months that followed, many pine and fir trees in fact have turned rather bronze. Unlike on humans, on a tree, bronze does not look healthy.
Thank you to the many guests who have emailed us, concerned at how A Butler’s Manor fared in the “Frankenstorm” called Sandy. I want to let everyone know we are safe and the Manor is intact. We were very blessed to have been struck only a glancing blow by the storm, losing only one large tree in the area behind the pool. Our power went down for a few hours before the hurricane made landfall near Atlantic City, NJ, but was back up before nightfall.
As often happens following a horrific storm, Tuesday, October 30 dawned clear and sunny here in Southampton, with only a light breeze. Chris and I started at 8 AM to take down the fallen tree, a 30′ Leyland Cypress that had, alas, fallen atop our favorite tree, the specimen Japanese Maple that graces the back of the pool. This little warrior took a hit about six years back when we had a Nor’easter blow through in late April, taking down five trees. That same Leyland Cypress, and the slightly smaller Arborvitae in front of it, dominoed down on top the Japanese Maple, amazingly breaking only the top of its crown. We were able to save and cable both the Leyland and the Arborvitae…until Sandy. It took Chris about four hours with a chainsaw to free the little tree. It will be one funny shaped Japanese Maple for a few years, but we hold out hope that it will recover and continue to add its beauty to the landscape for years to come.
We’ve been driving around the village of Southampton to assess damage. As expected, our south facing Atlantic beaches took a major hit, scouring the dunes from most of the beaches. The pictures and video here that show rocks and revetments were photographed on Tuesday evening. In our twenty years in the Hamptons, we’ve never before seen the hardscape, as they were completely covered by dunes. Meadow Lane, which services the ocean front mansions, was flooded and impassable on our reconnoiter, but it was nothing like the photos we saw online of Dune Road in Hampton Bays. (Dune Road and Meadow Road were once the same road; the 1938 hurricane that created the Shinnecock Canal split the barrier beach into two parts, separated by access from the ocean into Shinnecock Bay.) The easternmost end of Dune Road, where Oaklands and Sundays on the Bay are located, have lost ALL of the dune that separated the Atlantic beach from the road, the parking lots, and the marina on the bay. The road disappeared entirely under sand, and the entire spit is flat as…well, as a beach.
But Southampton village is fine, has power, and is open for business. Restaurants are serving meals to those either without power or just consumed with cabin fever (the Southampton Publick House was PACKED last night!) Road crews have cleared broken tree branches to the road verges and the town and village trucks are busy collecting debris, while LIPA is in evidence restoring power to those who still are out.
I apologize for sounding banal, with our tiny little losses, when so many, many others have suffered far worse fates and will be putting their lives together for weeks, maybe months. Our hearts, prayers and positive thoughts go out to our friends and guests west of us on Long Island, and especially coastal New Jersey who have suffered catastrophic losses.
On a positive note: We just had our first EVER trick or treaters knock at the door of A Butler’s Manor! (When the street parallel to you is called Elm Street, and many of the houses on it decorate accordingly, no one usually ventures beyond to our humble front door.) Bless kids — no hurricane damage is going to keep them from Halloween candy!
May we learn from their resilience!