Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko Gives Briefing on Town’s Response to Hurricane Irene
August 29, 2011

Farmingville, NY – On August 29, 2011, at Corey Beach Marina in Blue Point, Supervisor Mark Lesko joined with Congressman Bishop, Highway Superintendent John Rouse, Town Council members, State Senators and Assemblymen, Suffolk County Legislators, Village Mayors, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the American Red Cross to update the public on the response to Hurricane Irene.

“Hurricane Irene came into Brookhaven as a ferocious storm with severe wind and rain causing damage to the whole Town that was particularly devastating to some south shore and low-lying north shore communities,” said Supervisor Mark Lesko, “the Town has been working non-stop since last week to prepare for Irene and we are responding to the aftermath of the storm. I am pleased by the great job of our Town employees leading the response effort in Brookhaven, but there is still work to be done. The Town will do everything it can to help residents to recover.”

"The Highway Department has been working around the clock to address the cleanup from this storm, responding to over 1,200 resident calls in the last 40 hours. The workers have done a phenomenal job so far, and we will be working 7 days a week until the job is done. I want to thank the residents in advance for their patience, and thank my staff for all their hard work,” said John Rouse, Superintendent of Highways.

“As we enter the next phase of this disaster, we need to aggressively catalogue storm damage to ensure that all possible aid is brought back to assist Brookhaven taxpayers,” Congressman Tim Bishop said. “I am also very concerned that while our beaches did their job and protected life and property, without renourishment, our coastline is very vulnerable. I applaud Supervisor Lesko, Superintendent of Highways Rouse and all the Brookhaven first responders and employees for their work to keep residents safe and for their hard work to restore services as quickly as possible.”

Supervisor Mark Lesko issued a State of Emergency for Brookhaven on August 25, 2011 and the Town opened its Emergency Operations Center on a 24-hour basis on Friday, August 26, 2011. Lesko issued mandatory evacuation orders for Fire Island, the south shore south of Montauk Highway, Strong’s Neck in Setauket, and the Cedar Beach peninsula on the north shore. Lesko also issued voluntary evacuations for the low-lying north shore communities. All evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Town coordinated with multiple levels of government to prepare for and respond to the hurricane. The Town sent a Fire Marshal to the Suffolk County Emergency Operations Center starting at noon on Thursday, August 25th. A Fire Marshal has been there and remained since then. Throughout the process, continual updates were given to mayors of the nine Villages in Brookhaven: Belle Terre, Old Field, Poquott, Bellport, Patchogue, Lake Grove, Shoreham, Port Jefferson, and Mastic Beach. The Town has been in close contact with its federal officials before, during, and after the storm and has kept a log of all storm-related expenses with hopes of getting reimbursed by FEMA.

On late Saturday night, Supervisor Lesko visited all of the shelters in Brookhaven – Longwood High School, Eastport South Manor High School, and Sachem East High School. Lesko and his staff even went out to buy 40 gallons of milk for residents at Longwood High School and Sachem East High School. Lesko and his staff spent Saturday into Sunday at the Emergency Operations Center at Brookhaven Town Hall, and then observed the damage around the entire Town starting Sunday morning into today. Today, Supervisor Lesko went to Davis Park on Fire Island with Congressman Tim Bishop and the Army Corps of Engineers, which was severely damaged by the storm. He also visited to Mastic Beach Village again, which was also hit hard.

At today’s briefing Supervisor Lesko gave an update on the situation in Brookhaven and provided some information that may be helpful to residents in recovering from Hurricane Irene. “I also want to make sure residents know that the Town of Brookhaven is open, and they can call (631) 451-TOWN regarding any issues related to Hurricane Irene,” said Supervisor Lesko.

Power Outages

There are approximately 190,000 Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) customers in the Town of Brookhaven and as of 5:00 p.m. on August 29th, 67,846 people still did not have power in Brookhaven. LIPA told the Town that power will be restored to at least 50% of homes within the next 48 hours.

The Town today received an alarming call from Mather Hospital that after several requests to LIPA, the hospital still did not have power. The hospital’s medical offices and radiology unit were affected by this outage, which means that the hospital cannot conduct cat-scans, MRI’s, blood transfusions, or outpatient chemotherapy. The Town made a request to LIPA to restore power to Mather Hospital.

“I am becoming increasingly concerned about LIPA’s response to Hurricane Irene in the Town of Brookhaven. The Town has done its part and it is now time for LIPA to step up to the plate,” said Supervisor Mark Lesko.

The Town also estimates there are approximately 80 traffic lights still out in Brookhaven and the Town has asked the Suffolk County Police Department to direct traffic at these lights. The Town Traffic signal contractor started fixing and repairing these lights on Sunday morning, but the Town is still waiting for LIPA to restore power to them.

Disposal of Residential Yard Waste and Debris

The majority of calls the Town has been receiving at the Town’s 451-TOWN Contact Center are residents who are asking the Town what they can do with storm debris. To accommodate residents, Supervisor Mark Lesko announced that the Town of Brookhaven’s Department of Waste Management is accepting storm debris for free at four Town locations: the Brookhaven Landfill located at 350 Horseblock Road Yaphank, the Manorville Compost Facility located at Papermill Road in Manorville, the Holtsville Ecology Center located at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville, and Percy Raynor Park located on Route 347 in Setauket. Residents can bring storm debris to these locations and they will not be charged. This service will only be provided to residents, not landscapers.

In addition, the Town has scheduled an emergency brush pick-up week for next week. Residents can bundle their yard waste on the curb on Sunday night and it will be picked up during the week.

Because many residents do not have power, the Town also plans on sending an informational flyer to residents regarding the information for disposal of debris and yard waste, which residents should receive by the end of the week.

The Town will accept the following materials during the emergency brush week:

Acceptable Materials

How to Prepare Materials

Not Acceptable Materials

Brush, twigs, small branches (up to 6” in diameter), wood chips, hedge clippings

- Bundle, bag, or place in 32 gallon garbage can (bundles are preferred)

- Bundles must be securely tired

- Bundles must be no larger than 4’ x 2’ x 2’

- 50 lb. limit per item

- Place at curb, separate from garbage, on Sunday night preceding yard waste week


- Large branches over 6’ in diameter, logs, and stumps

- Brush may not protrude above rim of container

- No dirt or leaves

- No loose brush at the curb

Leaves, acorns, weeds, hay mulch, thatch, pine cones, needles, non-woody plants

- Must be bagged; 50 lb. limit per bag

- Paper or clear bags preferred

- No more than 50 bags per week

- Place at curb, separate from garbage, on Sunday night preceding yard waste week

- No grass

- No logs or stumps

- No Loose items in cans

- No dirt  

Although no logs, large branches, or trees will be accepted during emergency brush week, these items can be brought to the Landfill, the Manorville Compost Facility, Holtsville Ecology Center, or Percy Raynor Park at no charge. The Brookhaven Landfill is open from Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Manorville Compost is open from Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Holtsville Ecology Center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Percy Raynor Park is open from Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Town resumed regular Monday-Thursday garbage collection today, August 29th, and will be resuming Tuesday-Friday collection tomorrow. Waste Management carters will not be able to access areas where roadways are blocked, but the Department has sanitation inspectors out in the field reporting any problems with road access. The Town anticipates it will be able to access up to 85% of all residences and encourages residents to place their trash in a spot that is visible and not blocked by storm debris.

Highway Department

The Town’s Highway Department has been working around the clock to address the clean-up. According to John Rouse, Highway Superintendent, on Sunday night at midnight over 200 employees were called into work through the storm and begin the process of clearing the roads. Over 50 employees from the Parks and Waste Management Departments are assisting the Highway Department in this effort.

The Highway Department has responded to over 1,200 requests for removal of down trees. The Highway Department has 200 trees that cannot be removed due to LIPA wires entangled in those trees.

Over 95% of all non-LIPA related trees have been pushed out of the road, providing vehicle access for residents and emergency service vehicles. Highway plans to open the roadways first and then return to remove the debris from the side of the road. The Highway crews will be working seven days a week until the process is complete.

Insurance Claims

Due to the extensive property damage throughout Brookhaven Town, GEICO and Allstate insurance companies will have Catastrophic Response Teams located at Brookhaven Town Hall, located at 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville, NY. Allstate has opened their mobile office in Town Hall and GEICO will be opening their mobile office in the parking lot of Town Hall tomorrow, August 31st.

The Town also contacted State Farm, Liberty Mutual, and Nationwide insurance companies to establish an emergency claims center at Town Hall. The Town hopes these companies and others will come to Town Hall for one-stop shopping for residents who need to submit insurance claims.

Residents who are coming to Town Hall to meet with GEICO or Allstate representatives are asked to bring their insurance policies along with a list of damages. It is also recommended that photos of the damage be provided.

Town Facilities

When Supervisor Lesko visited Davis Park marina today he found that it was badly damaged. He ordered it closed for 48 hours to allow for necessary repairs. Sandspit Marina in Patchogue also suffered damage. Boat owners are not permitted to put their boats in the water at Sandspit until they are notified by phone from the Town. The other marinas - Port Jefferson Marina, Mt. Sinai Marina, Blue Point Marina, and the Forge River Marina - do not have power and there is only emergency staff there.

Town beaches will be closed until Wednesday, which means no swimming allowed. Fire Island Beaches will be open by the end of the week. The Centereach and Holtsville Pools will reopen tomorrow, Tuesday, August 31st.

Town Recreation Centers, including Henrietta Acampora in Blue Point, the Mastic Recreation Center, the New Village Recreation Center in Centereach, the Robert E Reid center in Shoreham, and St. Michael’s in Gordon Heights, will open August 31st, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information about the Town’s response to Hurricane Irene, call (631) 451-TOWN or visit Brookhaven’s website at Customers can call LIPA at (631) 755-6900 for updates and to report an outage or downed wires.

Division of Public Information * Office of the Supervisor
One Independence Hill • Farmingville • NY 11738 • Phone (631) 451-6595 • Fax (631) 451-6258