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Storm

A a house on James Street in Shoreham saw trees fall on power lines and a vehicle. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Kyle Barr and David Luces

Gusts upwards of 60 mph struck Long Island Halloween night, bringing down trees and power lines across the North Shore and beyond.

A a house on James Street in Shoreham saw trees fall on power lines and a vehicle. Photo by Kyle Barr

The National Weather service reported areas like Stony Brook saw wind speeds as high as 74 miles per hour from at around 3 a.m. Nov. 1. Stony Brook records its weather data from the top of its Health Science Center at a height of 119 meters off the ground..

PSEG Long Island reported the day after the storm affected over 58,000 homes and businesses. Employees reported clearing 384 trees from wires.

As of 11 a.m. the following morning, the utility company reported 77 percent of customers’ power had been restored, with approximately 12,000 of 1.1 million customers from Long Island to the Rockaways were without service. Somewhat strong winds continued throughout the morning after the storm. 

The wind and rain spared trick-or-treaters the evening of Oct. 31, but many stayed home to avoid the worst of the storm. 

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and representatives of PSEG held a press conference Nov. 1 in front of the St. James General Store. 

John O’Connell, Vice President of PSEG Long Island, provided the latest update on its power restoration work. 

He said this morning PSEG had restored power to 47,000 customers out of a remaining 57,000. The majority of the remaining 10,000 affected customers will have their power by the end of the day, according to O’Connell. Work will continue into tomorrow for smaller jobs as well.

 

Mark Freeley with Storm
Facebook video reaches over 20 million worldwide

By Melissa Arnold

Two years ago, a peaceful walk down by the water in Port Jefferson brought 15 seconds of fame to injury attorney Mark Freeley and his English golden retriever, Storm.

You might have read an article about Freeley and Storm in the New York Times or People magazine, or maybe you’re one of more than 20 million people who saw the pair’s dramatic viral video online.

Storm made a splash in 2017 when he spotted a fawn struggling to stay afloat in the waters of Port Jefferson Harbor. 

Freeley, who lives in Stony Brook, walks at least five miles each day with the retriever and his younger adopted “sister,” Sarah, a mixed breed. On a steamy July morning, they headed to Harborfront Park and Centennial Park in Port Jefferson where they spent time walking along the shore and then started heading to Pirate’s Cove. Suddenly, Storm, who was off-leash, made a beeline into the water. 

Storm is well-disciplined and rarely takes off so suddenly, said Freeley, 55. He recalled being puzzled by his dog’s behavior at the time. 

“Storm never brings anything back to me, not even a tennis ball. So it was weird to see him run off into the water,” he joked. “I grabbed my camera and wanted to see what he was doing, and then I noticed an animal’s head bobbing in and out of the water. Storm hesitated for a minute and looked back at me like, ‘What do I do now, Dad?’ I tried to encourage him and keep him calm.”

Storm swam roughly 100 feet from shore and tenderly grabbed the fawn by the scruff of its neck before bringing it back to dry land. Freeley’s video captures the stunning rescue as he continually cheers, “Good boy, Storm! Bring it in!”

Frank Floridia carries the deer out of the water on July 16

When he reached the shore, Storm nervously let go of the fawn, which ran only a few paces before collapsing with apparent exhaustion. The video ends as Storm gently paws and nudges the animal with his nose in an attempt to revive it.

Many people are unaware of what happened next: Freeley took a close-up video of the male deer and attempted to send it to Frank Floridia at Strong Island Animal Rescue League in Port Jefferson Station, but spotty cell service hindered the call for help. Freeley had no choice but to leave the exhausted animal behind and head back toward the village.

Once Freeley picked up a cell signal, he was able to send the video to Floridia. Together with co-owner Erica Kutzing, Strong Island responds to calls involving injured and abused animals in emergency situations. They’ve rescued dogs, cats, possums, deer and a variety of other animals, sometimes performing several rescues in a day.

Floridia met Freeley in the village, and the pair headed back toward the cove. The trip takes around 20 minutes on foot and is full of slippery, rocky terrain. Kutzing drove to nearby Belle Terre, which provides faster access to the cove.

It wouldn’t be an easy task.

“We went back to the spot where the deer was left, but he got spooked when he heard us coming and actually ran back into the water again,” Floridia said. “We tried to get Storm to retrieve him a second time, but he wouldn’t go, and the deer became distressed — he was probably 100 feet out at least. I knew we either had to go get him or he was going to die.”

Floridia and Freeley waded out into the water, flanking the deer on each side. They attempted to reach for him, but he continued to avoid them. Finally, he grew tired and Floridia was able to secure the fawn with a rope, bringing it to shore. 

Their initial assessment found that the fawn had cuts and scrapes, was infested with ticks and severely dehydrated. Kutzing took the animal to STAR Foundation in Middle Island, where he was promptly named Water and underwent rehabilitation for several months. He was ultimately released back into the wild with a clean bill of health.

Erica Kutzing prepares to transport the deer to the STAR Foundation in Middle Island

“We think he must have come down the cliff in that area, and there was really nowhere else for him to go. He had no choice but to swim,” Floridia explained. “Deer are good swimmers, but this fawn was only a few weeks old. He was so exhausted that he didn’t even put up a fight.”

Storm’s brave rescue graced local and national headlines for several weeks. But Freeley wasn’t ready for their story to end.

In his spare time, Freeley and his family volunteer with Last Chance Animal Rescue based in Southampton. The 501(c)3 charitable organization rescues animals from high-kill shelters in the Carolinas and Georgia on a weekly basis. Upon arrival on Long Island, the animals spend a week with volunteer foster families before being adopted by their new owners. 

“Mark came to us as a volunteer leading adoption events and also offering us pro bono legal support. Once Storm had a following, people would come out to events just to see him and take pictures with him,” said Judith Langmaid, director of adoption for Last Chance Animal Rescue. 

“We couldn’t believe it when the video blew up. We thought it was crazy, but it was so exciting. As it got traction, Mark wanted to do anything he could to promote Last Chance and animal rescue in general. He said, ‘If I can use this for good, I want to do it.’ He’s genuine and dependable. We’re so grateful to have him,” she added.

Freeley began to use Storm’s Facebook page, called Good Boy Storm, to promote Last Chance events and animals in need of adoption. “I saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness for other animals fighting for their lives in kill shelters,” he said. The page has helped connect many animals with forever homes.

“There are very few things in life that you can watch make an immediate difference like this. To see a family come in and adopt an animal that would have been euthanized is a great feeling,” Freeley said.

To learn more about Mark Freeley and Storm, search for Good Boy Storm on Facebook. To learn more about animal rescue efforts in our area or to adopt, visit www.lcarescue.org or call 631-478-6844. Strong Island Animal Rescue League can be reached at 631-403-0598.

Photos from Mark Freeley and Frank Floridia

This past weekend, several parts of Long Island was hit by an unexpected flash wind and rain storm that took down numerous large trees, branches and electric wires across parts of Long Island. In the Town of Huntington, much of the northern and eastern parts of town were affected.

Over 80,000 homes and businesses across Long Island lost power due to the storms. 26,000, nearly one third of the total power outages, were spread across Huntington, Smithtown and Islip.

Huntington’s Highway, General Services and Maritime Services Departments worked through the night to clear roads and waterways of hazards created by the storm, working on over 750 service tickets.

Crews from Nassau County, upstate New York and out of state, including 48 Con Edison personnel and approximately 400 tree trim and line workers assisted.

General services crew leaders are completing damage assessment at all

Huntington town facilities and parks, municipal & commuter parking lots.

Tree and limb removal will take place at Veterans Park, Henry Ingraham Preserve, Heckscher Park, Caravan Park, Elwood Park, William Byrne Park, Cedar Road Park, Commack Park, Dix Hills Park & Golf course, and the Washington Drive Parking Lot.

The most extensive damage is at Crab Meadow Golf Course where approximately 35 trees are down, and hundreds of broken branches are on the ground or hanging in trees. The golf course is currently closed, and officials hope to have it opened for play by this Wednesday,  June 3, even though tree removal operations will continue for several weeks.

The Dix Hills Pool was closed July 1 due to a power outage.

Officials said they expected half of all outages would have been restored by July 1 and 95% restored by midnight, July 2.

To report a downed wire and receive status updates on power call PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number at 1-800-490-0075.

To report downed trees blocking roads or branches suspended over roads, contact the Highway Department at (631) 499-0444 or huntingtonny.gov/highway.

Residents without power can keep cool at these Town of Huntington facilities:

  • Senior Center at 423 Park Avenue in Huntington from Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Dix Hills Ice Rink at 575 Vanderbilt Parkway, open until 8 p.m. and opening at 6 AM.
  • Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Memorial Spray Park at Elwood Park on Cuba Hill Road in Elwood is open 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week, with extended hours, opening at 10 a.m. for special needs children Tuesdays and Thursdays, including the 4th of July.

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The lights went out just as I had finished the chapter, and was about to put down my book and go to bed. I looked at my watch, which shines in the dark, and noted that it was past 11 p.m. It was a clear night with no lightning or wind, was my first thought. Probably some driver ran into a telephone pole and disabled a transformer, my brain posited, trying to make sense of the sudden blackness. Then the loud noises began. In rapid succession, there was a series of what sounded like firecrackers going off somewhere on our street, close to our house. The acrid smell of smoke began to fill the air.

I briefly thought to go outside, then decided to wait a few minutes before bothering to fumble around for a robe or wake the rest of the house. Within minutes my neighbor across the street phoned. He looks directly at our property. And he said that the telephone pole right beside my driveway was on fire, flames and sparks coming out from the bottom. “We’ve called the fire department, and you seem to be in no immediate danger,” he reassured me. “They said they would be here directly. In fact, here comes a police car now. It’s beaten the fire truck.”

Time to wake the house and go outside for a look, I decided, hoping not to trip over any obstacle on my way to the front door. The police car was in our driveway, his lights the only ones piercing the darkness. “What’s happened?” I yelled as he got out and slowly walked toward me. He didn’t want to trip over a tree root or a curb either.

“Your telephone pole is burning but not to worry, the firemen will shortly have it under control,” he offered calmly, as if everyone deals with these particulars when they should be in bed asleep. When I asked, he told me his name and that he was from the 6th Precinct. My hostess instincts rushed to the fore. “Would you like some coffee or a sandwich?”

He laughed. It was, after all, a preposterous exchange to be having in the dead of night. “No thank you, but here come the guys from PSEG, right behind the firemen. They will take care of this quickly.”

It wasn’t so quick. A courageous soul from PSEG Long Island went up in one of those extending arm buckets mounted on the truck alongside the burning pole to cut the electric wires. At the same time, the entire street was plunged into darkness, no doubt at the direction of the power company.

“What caused such a reaction?” my neighbor asked a worker. “Who knows?” he replied with a shrug. “It could be a rodent or a squirrel chewing through the wires.” The responders were a gallant crew, seemingly unperturbed by the excitement. Between the fire trucks and the PSEG trucks, there were interminable blinking lights and radio noise for a couple of hours. The men went about their jobs in good humor, and when the lines were cut and the fire finally out, they promised to come back the next day. They were able to restore power to the rest of the block but, of course, not to us, before they left.

To their great credit, the men were back with trucks by 9 a.m. the following morning. This surface crew dug up the burnt wires, installed a new pole alongside the charred one and reconnected the overhead wires. The underground crew arrived around midday and installed the other wires beneath the soil, laboring until well after dark under bright lights before they finished.

By 9 p.m. we had our power back in our house but not the other services that are attached to the pole: cable and telephone. As of this writing, those services are promised shortly. Whatever we grouse about on the national level of our country, it is tremendously reassuring that on the local level we are remarkably well cared for. Three cheers for my helpful neighbors, the police, firemen and PSEG men.

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By Alex Petroski & Kyle Barr

Those strolling through Port Jefferson Village on the morning of Sept. 26 couldn’t stride too far without hearing the distinct sound of Shop-Vacs. The area was hit with more than 4 inches of rain during the evening into the night Sept. 25, according to the National Weather Service, leading to severe flooding in Port Jefferson Village.

The intense rain storm flooded businesses, the Port Jefferson Fire Department and even forced emergency evacuations from Theatre Three. Fire department Chief Brennan Holmes said water levels on the department’s grounds on Maple Place reached about 5 feet high.

“The problem with this was it was 4 inches of rain in an hour and a half, so it rose so quickly that a chief’s car got stuck in a flash flood, we couldn’t get the trucks out,” he said Wednesday morning as cleanup efforts were already well underway. He added he had just spoken to Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), whose department was helping out with the cleanup effort. “I think we took 10 people out of flooded cars.”

Christian Neubert, a member of the fire department, said around 8 p.m. Tuesday night people were trapped in their cars in the vicinity of Wynn Lane, as well as others on Liberty Avenue near Port Jefferson High School. Holmes said between 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. the department responded to 14 alarms related to the flooding.

In addition to damage to at least one department car, Holmes said the radio room also flooded, sustaining damage that was still being assessed Wednesday.

“We had a lot of stuff damaged,” Holmes said. “Usually [some flooding is] easily mitigated. We’re good with that. We get the trucks out and up the hill. This just came so fast and so quick and so much that it was tough.”

Theatre Three was inundated with water during the storm. The deluge left a watermark 4 feet high in the theater’s basement, high enough to nearly pour over the bar and stools used for the theater’s comedy nights.

Theatre Three president, Andrew Markowitz, said the flooding started around 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25. The water reached high enough to muddy the costumes and props the theater was to use in this upcoming Friday’s production of “The Addams Family,” many of which will have to be quickly replaced. Worse still, much of the theater’s lighting apparatus was stored downstairs, and personnel were still determining what needed to be repaired or replaced Wednesday.

“We have a lot of volunteers who are helping out, but anyone who wants to come down and clean they are welcome,” Markowitz said.

The office on a lower floor used by Jeffrey Sanzel, the theater’s executive artistic director, was nearly submerged. The small office contained innumerable books, original stage scripts and stage props, many of which Sanzel said were completely ruined by the rushing waters. He estimated several thousand dollars worth of items were destroyed. However, their loss means much more to him on a personal level.

“I spend more time in that office than I do in my own house, and everything in my desk, from my shelves down, is gone,” Sanzel said, his pants stained with mud. “The personal stuff — it’s just gone, I’ve never seen it like this. But then again, we could be in the Carolinas, you have to put things in proportion.”

At the same time the theater was hosting about 40 children and their families in auditions for its yearly portrayal of “A Christmas Carol.” Since the kids had nowhere to go with the several-foot-deep waters outside, Sanzel said they simply continued on with the auditions in order to keep the kids calm.

Holmes indicated that while the flooding was catastrophic, it occurred during low tide. When asked what this storm might have looked like had it happened during high tide, the chief responded, “We don’t want to know.”

Markowitz said Theatre Three is still waiting for the assessment on total damages, but he feared the cost could be astronomical. He said the theater would work hard over the next days to make sure the production of “The Addams Family” goes on, despite the flooding.

“The show must go on,” he said.

Donations are already pouring in, and theater operators said they have received close to $5,000 just in the morning hours after the flood.

For more information, go to the website: www.theatrethreetickets.com/donations.

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The emails, text messages and calls came from all over the country. In the days leading up to Hurricane Florence’s arrival in North Carolina, friends and family shared good wishes for my family, who had moved to the Tar Heel State during the summer.

Preparing for the storm, we were under the impression that we were leaving the typical path of hurricanes when we moved this far west to Charlotte, which is more than 200 miles from the coast.

As the tone and urgency to prepare for the hurricane from meteorologists and politicians reached a peak, people lined up outside supermarkets, waiting to park their cars and navigate their overflowing carts through crowded aisles for their list of must-haves.

Clearly, water and bread were on every list, as the shelves at the 24-hour supermarket didn’t have a drop of bottled water. The only remaining bread was a cranberry concoction that sat on an otherwise bare shelf, examined closely perhaps by a desperate shopper and discarded at a rakish angle, a lone bread crumb telling the tale of the hurricane hurry.

Gas stations brought the same crowds, as drivers were as anxious as they would be on Long Island to gather fuel before trucks might be delayed and gas lines could grow.

People often referred to 1989, when Hurricane Hugo ripped through Charlotte.

Two days before the hurricane reached the area, the public schools closed despite the clear skies and the relatively calm winds. Several of the schools transformed into shelters for residents of the city and for those fleeing from points further east.

The day before the storm, a local bank teller told me about a nearby store that received a new water shipment. The parking lot for this rare find was as empty as the shelves were full of fresh water.

On the day of the hurricane, the forecast for the area called for squalls and heavy rains through much of the day. We stared outside, judging how far the trees bent over and how hard the sheets of rain were blown into our windows. Did we dare go out, especially when we didn’t know areas of local flooding all that well?

I called the local bagel store, where the man who answered the phone said the store planned to remain open through the afternoon.

We looked at trees that provide shade for us in a typical day and are homes for all manner of songbirds to see if we could figure out which of our arboreal friends were the most dangerous — and vulnerable — in the storm.

Eager to get fresh food and to leave the house before it was impossible, we drove around a few downed branches to the store, where we made the mistake of shopping when we were hungry and in provision mode.

When our teenage children awoke, we triumphantly presented the food. They seemed mildly impressed.

We still had electricity until Sunday afternoon, up until the time when we learned that schools would be closed for another day, as trees were removed from the area and power companies restored energy.

The calls and emails from outside the state continued to come in, as supportive friends continued to check to see how we were doing.

Even as other areas of the state dealt with unprecedented flooding, strong winds and tornadoes, we considered ourselves fortunate only to have lost a few trees and power for a day.

As with the response to Hurricane Sandy, our new neighbors in Charlotte offered advice. We may have moved to a fresh environment, but we were heartened by the support from up close and afar in the face of nature’s fury.

A dog is rescued from flood waters of Hurrican Harvey in Texas. Photo from Mark Freeley's GoFundMe

After internet sensation Storm, an English golden retriever, saved a drowning fawn from Port Jefferson Harbor, now owner Mark Freely is looking to help others.

Last Chance Animal Rescue is teaming up with Freeley’s North Shore Injury Lawyer and volunteer Jeff Segal, owner of Boom Event Source, to help thousands of animals affected and displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

Freeley is an animal adoption event leader, foster and pro bono attorney for Last Chance Animal Rescue on Long Island. He said the organization has a truck leaving next Wednesday, Sept. 6, being driven by Segal’s friend transporting all needed supplies to Texas, according to an email from Freeley.

There is a need for donations of dog and cat food bowls, leashes, collars, collapsible crates, cat litter and disposable litter pans.

“Last Chance has already stepped up to donate many of their existing donations to help these animals who are in dire need,” Freeley said of the Southampton-based nonprofit. “Donations will help us to send these items to Texas, and purchased items can also be donated to us.”

Items to be donated must be handed in no later than Sept. 5. Items can be brought to Freeley’s law office at 144 Woodbury Rd. in Woodbury from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., to Boom Event Source located at 11 Michael Avenue in Farmingdale from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. or to the Last Chance adoption event at the Selden Petco Sept. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A truck will be dropping off supplies to the George Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, which is housing over 400 animals and 8,000 people, to San Antonio Pets Alive Rescue and some will also be dropped off at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, which will be taking in 200 displaced rescue animals from the Texas flooding.

“They are so desperately need our help, and as much as possible,” Freeley said. “The animals of Texas are counting on us.”

Freeley has already collected $2,200 from 41 people in less than 24 hours after creating a GoFundMe page to help the cause. The current goal is $3,000.

“Thank you for helping these poor animals,” Danielle DiNovi said with her donation.

“God bless the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” wrote Geri Napolitano with a contribution to the cause, “both big and small.”

The corner of King and Oxalis road flooded as garbage cans floated to the center of the dip at the intersection following severe rainfall Aug. 18. Photo from Sara Wainwright

By Desirée Keegan

Rocky Point residents are flooded with emotion over the rise in water level during recent storms.

As rain fell on King and Oxalis roads during the heavy rainfall Aug. 18, residents reached out to Brookhaven Town’s highway department in search of answers as to why their questions of concern have not been answered.

“I know we sound like a broken record regarding the flooding conditions at King and Oxalis, but I am writing to continue to follow up on this situation,” Rocky Point resident Sara Wainwright wrote in a letter to the highway department. “We’ve been complaining for years about the flooding, which used to be occasional, and now occurs nearly every time it rains.”

Flooding runs down an almost mile-length on King Road in Rocky Point. Photo from Sara Wainwright

She said, and the highway department confirmed, that additional drains were added, but Wainwright claims they’re in places where they do not help to relieve the flooding, and said the town has to send out manpower and equipment to pump the drains almost every big storm.

“My husband, Frank, had a lengthy conversation with Kevin from the highway department, and members walked the property,” said Wainwright, who lives on King Road right across from the Oxalis intersection. “We suggested and Kevin agreed to look into installing additional drains on our property in front of our trees. We have heard nothing else on this since, and the conditions have continued to deteriorate with every storm.”

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said that 12 drainage structures have been installed in the specific area of Rocky Point over the last year to alleviate flooding conditions. He said the cost of the systems was more than $70,000.

But Wainwright and her neighbors say the streets are still dangerous during heavy rain.

“This is the worst we have seen from rain alone — the water is nearly up to my neighbor’s front walkway,” she said Aug. 18. “Highway department workers did drive by and they did mention there are other flooding conditions today, however this is an ongoing issue that I have been requesting help with for several years. Please do not try to pacify me with ‘we had lots of flooding everywhere today.’ Even the fire department sent out warnings to responders that the road is closed due to flooding here.”

Losquadro responded that “flooding everywhere” is part of the problem, but said recent studies have shown that there is still a drainage issue in the vicinity.

“When we have significant rain events like this morning — when nearly four inches of rain fell within a few hours — most drainage structures will struggle to dissipate the runoff quickly enough to maintain a water-free surface,” he said. “I am well aware of the conditions experienced this morning both in Rocky Point and across central and northern Brookhaven Town and immediately dispatched crews to these areas to pump out existing drainage structures to alleviate flooded road conditions.”

Wainwright said that cars still speed down the road as flooding persists, and said this summer a man was trapped in his car when it died as he passed through.

Flooding on King and Oxalis roads. Photo from Sara Wainwright

“Please let me know how the town plans to proceed to resolve this issue as opposed to using our tax dollars to send out, and put at risk, employees and equipment,” Wainwright wrote in the letter. “Cars travel very fast down this road and have no regard for your workers, unfortunately. Another time, a police car became stuck, and multiple others of cars travel so fast they send a wake over my treetops. I think you get my point.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who has lived in Rocky Point for the last 30 years, has witnessed the issue firsthand, and receives concerned calls and emails regarding the matter.

“Residents send me photos and ask for my help,” she said. “The highway department and Dan Losquadro have been doing a great job paving roads, repairing drains and putting out massive storm water infrastructure. As a resident of Rocky Point I know some flood spots are better than others, and I’m thankful I live at the top of a hill, but I have seen when the rain stops, it does drain pretty quickly. It’s a matter of massive pileup over a short period of time.”

Wainwright said at the very least, she feels there should be street signs indicating the risk of flood conditions, and a warning to signal drivers to slow down as they move through the at-risk streets.

“I’m concerned as the season progresses that we will see more rain and possibly tropical storm and hurricane conditions,” Wainwright said in her letter. “My neighbors and I should not need to worry about flooding at elevation — you must understand that is ridiculous. We are all taxpayers. Please communicate to us as to how you plan to use the money that we have all been paying to remedy this safety issue.”

Losquadro said his engineering division recently completed a drainage study in and around the area of King and Oxalis roads, and came to the conclusion that there is still some concern.

“I will be moving forward with additional drainage infrastructure to handle more volume than what had been designed for in the past,” he said, “thereby preventing this condition from happening again.”

A brave dog took Port Jefferson Harbor by storm to rescue a flailing fawn July 16, and as a result has become a national celebrity. A video was posted on Facebook Sunday morning of Storm, a dog owned by Setauket resident Mark Freeley, bounding into Port Jeff harbor to rescue a drowning baby deer as Freeley watched from the shore and urged his dog to bring the deer in. By Wednesday, several million shares and views later, the video had gone viral and Storm was set to be honored by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Freeley said it best at the conclusion of the one-minute video: “Good boy, Storm!” Check back next week for a full story on the local hero.

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Mayor Dee Parrish, center, and the Board of Trustees for the Village of Poquott, discuss phase three of the storm cleanup during their Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8. Photo by Giselle Barkley

After three months and two storms, the Village of Poquott will continue its storm cleanup into the fall and winter months.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, the Board of Trustees for the Village of Poquott discussed phase three of the storm cleanup. While Poquott’s parks, beaches and areas around the village were cleaned during phase one and two, phase three focuses on clearing the trees that were damaged during the Aug. 4 storm.

Deputy Mayor Harry Berry of the Village of Poquott said four trees fell during the week with the windy weather from storm Joaquin. One tree caused a power shortage and started a fire in the basement of a nearby house on the corner of Cedar Avenue and Washington Street.

Berry also said these trees could cause further damage if they are not tended to.

“We have branches that are hanging up in trees. Should they fall down on somebody’s car, it may kill them,” Berry said in a phone interview. “If it comes down out of the trees…on somebody walking their dog or their kid and it kills the kid or the person’s dog, the village is going to be responsible.”

Thus far there are 28 damaged trees standing in the village. Some are broken, leaving 30- to 40-foot stalks standing, while others are severely damaged. While these trees are a safety concern for Berry, funding the cleanup is another issue. According to Berry, the village spent $11,500 for storm cleanup. Currently they are unsure how much it will cost the village to fund phase three of the cleanup, which will go out for bid this week.

But Board Trustee Jeff Koppelson said the board should get their facts straight before beginning phase three.

“We need to start [figuring] out what’s ours, what’s private property and then [start] to…take care of some of this stuff based upon what we can afford to do,” Koppelson said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Mayor Dee Parrish said during the meeting that there are trees in nearby parks that are down and take precedence over others. Parrish was unavailable for additional comment following the meeting.

While some of the 28 damaged trees may fall within private properties or nearby roadways, Berry as well as Richard Parrish, the president of Impact Environmental whose company funded Poquott’s Trustee Park cleanup, claimed some community members oppose the storm cleanup because “they’re afraid their taxes might go up.” Forcing homeowners to fund parts of the current and past storm cleanup was met with opposition from Poquott residents including Berry. The suggestion was made during phase two of the storm cleanup and was briefly discussed for phase three.

“You have lots of people in the village that are older [and] are on fixed incomes,” Berry said. “They can’t afford that kind of money.”

It was the board’s decision to go through the village to fund the cleanup and remove obstacles that cause transportation issues. While Long Island Tree Service was the company that completed phase one and two and evaluated the damaged trees in the village, it is unclear whether they will also complete phase three. Berry said companies are given two weeks to respond to the village’s bid for this phase.

Once the village finalizes the bidding process, Berry projects that clearing the damaged trees will take all of November “if [they’re] lucky.” Regardless of how long it may take, Berry said the village needs to work together to get the job done.

“The village…needs to understand that the whole village is in this together as a community,” Berry said. “It’s not any one person [working to clean the village].”