Gurney's Inn
August 09, 2006

99 Degrees in the Shade

August is here and so is the heat.

Last week, East Enders battled sweltering temperatures in the high 90s. According to weather guru Richard Hendrickson, who has run the local weather station for 76 years, we can expect to see more of the same in days to come. "From now on we'll have anywhere from one to three more days when it hits 90 or higher," he said. "I lay it all on global warming. We have polluted our upper stratosphere."

To combat the brazen sun, East Hampton Town officials opened cooling centers at the East Hampton Firehouse, Montauk Firehouse, and Senior Citizen Center on Springs Fireplace Road. Head of the Department of Human Resources Edna Steck explained the centers were occupied by elderly members of the community from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Two individuals were transported from their homes to the facilities, one due to a power outage around Lazy Point. Scattered power outages were common in East Hampton Town. LIPA Chairman Richard M. Kessel remarked, "The weather over the last several days was brutal and it put LIPA's Island electric grid and ability to deliver power to its customers to the test."

According to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill McGintee, during a recent meeting of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, Kessel said the utility had the juice to meet the island's need.

Todd Sarris, East Hampton Town Chief of Police, was pleased to announce there was "no road buckling" and the cooling centers were "scantily used." Overall, East Hampton seems to have weathered the storm better than Manhattan, where oppressive temperatures resulted in numerous deaths.

From August 1-3, the beach was a natural refuge for town residents. John Ryan, the head of lifeguards, said there were "a ton of people" at Atlantic Avenue and Indian Wells beaches. "The parking lot was close to being full," he explained, which is highly unusual midweek. "Guards had a hard time over on the bayside. It was difficult to sit that day," he said. County Executive Steve Levy extended hours for county beaches. When asked if he'd consider a similar measure, McGintee said he'd give it some thought.

The beach may be considered nature's air conditioner, but individuals trapped indoors were forced to pay higher prices for staying cool. Kessel reported, "The unprecedented growth in electric demand overall and in peak demand as well on Long Island during this week's heat storm was extraordinary." According to published reports, Island consumers can expect a 20% increase in energy bills to underwrite the cost of cooling next month.

Despite exorbitant electric bills and crowded beaches, Councilman Pete Hammerle said he didn't receive any complaints. "No calls, no complaints, nobody held us responsible for the weather . . . If it rains they blame us," he jested.

As the summer unwinds, be sure to stay cool and toughen up. It's going to be a hot one.

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