It was one of the strangest tropical storms in memory.
Isaias powered out of the Caribbean and ran up the East Coast, leaving destruction and electricity outages in its wake. It struck Shelter Island with high winds, some gusting to 65 mph, and then was gone in a few hours, with little rain, no storm surge, no higher-than-usual tides, and no flooding.
That’s the good news. The bad news was two dozen large trees knocked down, some torn from their roots, with power lines and large tree branches on the ground and in roads all over the Island.
Under the steady leadership of Highway Superintendent Brian Sherman, town crews went right to work and didn’t stop until the roads were cleared. The Highway Department was dedicated to getting the roads back to normal but, even more, were working to ensure the safety of Islanders.
Power was restored quickly, unlike other communities on the East End and Long Island as a whole. Communication and service by PSEG was termed abysmal by many, with large numbers of people in the dark many days after the storm had come and gone.
That didn’t happen on Shelter Island for several reasons, the main one being that Police Chief Jim Read, emergency management coordinator for the town, had anticipated problems and led other town departments to solutions. A PSEG crew was deployed to the Island before the storm, but communication was spotty, so Chief Read’s team took calls, and responded and assigned police officers to work with PSEG on critical areas.
There were more than 200 calls to the town’s emergency operations center, the chief said, regarding downed trees and wires, power outages and fires. The town was the call center for the most part, with residents seeking information or reporting emergency situations. The PSEG crew and the Police and Highway departments were coordinated, and local direction made a difference.
The Shelter Island Fire Department, as it always has, was ready and engaged to keep potentially perilous incidents from getting out of hand and destroying large swaths of property, and preventing the pain and heartache that serious injuries would have brought.
Islanders should count themselves fortunate to have public servants under sound leadership, and who have proved once more that they work hard, and work smart, to keep the Island safe.