Earl brings little damage to sister city

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, September 5, 2010

The town of Brookhaven, New York, was bracing for the hit ifHurricane Earl was planning to get unfriendly in theirneighborhood.

Town spokespeople said all their essential departments wereequipped with generators and chainsaws and emergency crews in casethe weather got out of control.

But luckily, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Earl from ahurricane to a tropical storm late Friday, as its wind speeds fellto 70 miles per hour. It made landfall Saturday in Nova Scotiaafter battering the coast with heavy rain and winds.

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And in Brookhaven, Miss., officials said they breathed a sigh ofrelief for their sister city. The two cities have always shared theconnection of having the same name, as well as the fact that duringHurricane Katrina, the New York Brookhaven sent a delegation ofemergency workers to help with efforts in Mississippi.

“When Hurricane Katrina hit, they came to Brookhaven, Miss.,” saidBrookhaven Mayor Les Bumgarner. “They decided to come down and helpus out, and they brought some firemen and paramedics. They offeredany assistance that we needed, and it was really quiteheart-warming that someone that far away cared about us.”

While Hurricane Earl dumped buckets on eastern Long Island, wheretorrential rains fell in Brookhaven and swells rose to 16 feet offSmith Point on Fire Island, until nightfall Friday, Suffolk Countyand its constellation of beach resorts remained under threat oftropical-storm-force winds that could turn outdoor furniture intoprojectiles, news reports said. The storm’s high waves were alsoproducing riptides, dangerous for swimmers, and eating away thesand at some beaches.

As such, Bumgarner said, had Earl been a more of a factor to thefolks in Brookhaven, New York, we would have offered a helping handback.

“We would call them and ask them what assistance they would needand see if we could provide it,” Bumgarner said. “I don’t know whatwe could do since they’re so much bigger than us, but we woulddefinitely want to do what we could to return the favor.”

Brookhaven is the largest municipality in Suffolk County, New York,and the third-largest town in the state. It consists of 368 squaremiles encompassing 153 miles of coastline and over 2,000 miles ofroadway within its geographical limits, according to itswebsite.

And after the bond that has been built between Brookhaven, Miss.,which was founded by New Yorker Samuel Jayne from nearby Setauket,New York, in 1818, and Brookhaven, New York, who helped in our timeof need, Bumgarner said he will make a few phone calls when theoffice opens back up on Tuesday.

“I think it really just kind of skirted the coastline and produceda lot of rain,” he said. “But I will call up there Tuesday to makesure everything’s all right.”