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Nov 2, 2012 2:51 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Montauk Businesses Weather The Storm

Nov 6, 2012 6:54 PM

Hurricane Sandy’s blow to the West Lake Clam and Chowder House in Montauk was pretty powerful. “We had three swim-up bars,” said Rob Devlin, the restaurant’s owner. “Every compressor was floating ... walk-in freezers were floating. ... I had a whole tuna fish that was just floating around.”

“Our hostess stations were floating in and out, like shazoom shazoom,” he said. “The kegerator, the tap system, was literally floating upside down.” The beer cooler behind the bar was floating.

The parking lot was filled with water. Mr. Devlin waded through water that rose to his waist so he could get in to shut the power off. Standup freezers floated out into the parking lot. There were “surges of water ... 6 to 8 inches at a time,” said Mr. Devlin, who was wearing rubber gloves and waders for protection against currents of water and electricity. “Oh my God, there goes my floor mat,” he said at one point. The water pushed at him; it was like “when people are getting surged” after opening doors aboard the Titanic, he said.

The restaurant, which is on Montauk Harbor, had closed for the season the night before the storm, a little earlier than the usual around-Thanksgiving end of its season. “I would never have been able to stay open,” Mr. Devlin said. His biggest concern now is whether he’ll be able to replace all the equipment before next spring, and whether his insurance will cover it. Asked if he could estimate the overall loss, he answered, “Negative.”

“We’re doing a lot better than a lot of people” though, the restaurant owner said.

“We’re so fortunate when you see what happened out west,” said Tanya Miller, who with her brother, Chris Miller, owns West Lake Marina, where the Clam and Chowder house is located. “They did have about 2 feet of water in the dining room: tables and chairs floating,” she said.

Damage at the marina proper was mostly confined to a storage room and bathrooms. “There was water in the bait freezer in the ice house,” too, Ms. Miller said, but most of the post-storm restoration involved just drying and cleaning out “messy stuff.”

“It’s scary when you see a few feet of water over your dock,” she said, but there was no damage to the docks or any of the boats, about 25 to 30 of which are still in the water. “We made out really well,” Ms. Miller said, adding that preparing for the forecast nor’easter would mostly involve simply securing loose items like garbage cans. “That’s kind of like a typical winter storm,” she said.

Lloyd Van Horn, the general property manager at the Montauk Yacht Club, said water flooded the basement of the north wing of the hotel. “If timing could be good for these things, I guess it would be good for us,” he said, as the resort was getting ready to close for the winter the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Even so, power was lost for a time, and 40 rooms could not be used because there’s no hot water in the area served by the basement’s mechanicals. The yacht club was booked this weekend for a wedding and rehearsal dinner, so some guests will have to go to other hotels. The restaurant is open, the staff is safe and sheltered, there’s no cable but there’s internet, and “other than that I guess we’d say it’s a 62-room versus 107-room” resort, Mr. Van Horn said.

“I think we consider ourselves pretty lucky to able to return to business as soon as the power came back,” he said, although for once he’d hoped that his “hurricane budget” wouldn’t have to be spent. “Just change the name of the storm and we get damage,” Mr. Van Horn said. “I just pull out my spread sheet from Irene.”

Carl Darenberg estimated the damage at the Montauk Marine Basin to be in the neighborhood of $5,000. The storm took a toll on some of the docks, which insurance won’t cover, there was some flooding in the marine store, and “I lost some of my electronic components for pumping fuel,” Mr. Darenberg said.

He’d hauled about 80 boats out of the water in preparation for the storm (insurance companies will make a partial payment for hauling out recreational boats before a storm, as it’s safer than staying in the water, he said), and was still moving them back into the water or around the storage yard before the nor’easter and then winter season.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as bad,” Mr. Darenberg said of the predicted nor’easter, but he added that Montauk was rendered more vulnerable when Sandy destroyed beachfront and “what I would call the outer bar” that protects the beach.

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What happened to her dog?
By jct057 (3), Canoga Park on Nov 3, 12 3:53 PM