Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy
11/15/2012 5:00:00 PM
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Posting Date: 11/15/2012 5:00:00 PM
This report is the second in a series from AIR’s ongoing damage survey of areas impacted by Sandy, which made landfall on October 29, 2012, five miles southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The photos and commentary here offer an initial glimpse into the kinds of damage patterns caused by this event. In this report, Engineer Matt Maddalo from Research and Modeling and Matt Holland from Consulting and Client Services provide commentary from coastal communities in Rhode Island and Connecticut surveyed on November 6 and Long Island on November 7.

In the areas surveyed, wind damage in the vast majority of cases was limited to light damage to roof shingles, roof flashing, and siding. The few instances of severe building damage were the result of downed trees or telephone poles. Condominium structures performed better than single family residences with respect to wind, and commercial signage and window openings fared very well.

Surge damage, where observed, was far more severe. In the Connecticut and Rhode Island areas surveyed, only structures on the immediate coast were severely damaged by surge. In Long Island, there were more examples of entire neighborhoods that were inundated with surge waters. In these areas, a significant number of properties within a few blocks of the coast showed signs of building and contents damage. Cars, pleasure boats, and other heavy objects were picked up and moved, indicating the force of the surge.

Please reference the following maps for orientation.

The legend for the top map is: A=Roy Carpenter Beach, South Kingstown, RI; B=Matunuck Beach, South Kingstown, RI; C=Misquamicut, Westerly, RI; D=Watch Hill, Westerly, RI; E=New London, CT; F=Cosey Beach, East Haven, CT.

The legend for the bottom map is: A= MacArthur Airport, Islip, NY; B=Little East Neck, NY ; C=Massapequa, NY ; D=Long Beach, NY; E=airport near Farmingdale, NY.

Click map to enlarge

Click map to enlarge

Rhode Island

Roy Carpenter’s Beach, South Kingstown

At Roy Carpenter’s Beach, of the 11 structures nearest to the beachfront, three floated away and four others were taken off of their foundations due to a combination of surge and beach erosion.

Figure 1: Home taken off its foundation by surge (Source: AIR).

Matunuck Beach, South Kingstown

In neighboring Matunuck Beach, no wind damage was observed, even to mobile homes, which are particularly vulnerable. Almost all the homes the AIR team saw in this area were of similar construction – wood frame homes with asphalt shingle roofs.

Misquamicut, Westerly

There was a significant cleanup effort in progress in Misquamicut. A large amount of sand had been carried ashore. Most structures were boarded up, and wind damage was limited to some roof flashing or siding. The street closest to the coast—Atlantic Avenue—was lined with commercial properties, some of which suffered severe surge damage. Residential structures were more common a few blocks in. There was evidence of surge waters (in the form of sand left behind) having reached more than 600 feet inland.

Figure 2: Siding damage to residential structure (Source: AIR).

Watch Hill, Westerly

Watch Hill is a coastal area in the town of Westerly, where 41 mph sustained winds were recorded. Homes in the historic district tend to be high value mansions. Of the 50 structures observed on the Watch Hill Cove “loop,” only one had multiple shingles missing. There was evidence of high winds in the form of downed trees and branches, but damage was limited. Businesses near the coast were closed and possibly damaged from surge, but raised homes near the coast appeared undamaged.


Connecticut coastal communities experienced damage patterns similar to Rhode Island’s.

New London

In New London, sustained wind speeds of 45 mph were recorded, as was a 70 mph gust, and the AIR team saw the most widespread (if not the most severe) damage of the day here. On Pequot and Montauk Avenues, which border the harbor, roof damage was seen on approximately 10% of homes. The only case of severe damage, however, was due to a tree falling on a house. In addition, some boats had been damaged, including one that had sunk (likely due to smashing into the dock).

Figure 3: (Left) Workers repairing a sidewalk and berm where a tree was uprooted and damaged a home; (Right) sunken pleasure boat attached to damaged dock (Source: AIR).

Cosey Beach, East Haven

In Cosey Beach, some homes immediately next to the coast experienced severe surge-related damage (entire walls and decks missing, foundations eroded), but wind damage was sparse in general. There were examples of roof damage in these areas, but they were the exceptions. Local residents in Cosey Beach told the team that two homes had been destroyed by surge, with four others possibly compromised. The AIR team could not visit this area to verify, as it was cordoned off by police. According to residents, all six of these homes had been damaged by Irene (2011) and had since been repaired.

An apartment building on Coe Avenue had had its roof torn off. This was noteworthy because it was much farther inland than the coastal locations where the team had observed very little damage. It is possible that the building height and flat roof were exacerbating factors. Also, from the twisted metal lying on the street in front of the building, it is possible that there had been some roof-attached structures that had introduced additional vulnerability and caused a part of the roof to peel up.

Figure 4: (Left) Light metal structure in front of Coe Avenue apartment building; (Center) Peeled back roof on apartment building, which caused evacuation; (right) damaged HVAC equipment on roof of apartment building (Source: AIR).

Long Island

MacArthur Airport Area, Islip

In the neighborhood surrounding MacArthur Airport, a gust of 81 mph had been recorded. From our observations, only about 2% of the houses experienced wind damage there. It appears the high gust did not pack enough punch to cause significant damage in these areas.

Little East Neck

Little East Neck is very close to the coast. At this location, the AIR Team saw some of the most severe damage of the day, driven by storm surge flooding. Of the homes closest to the coast, it appeared that about 20% had some visible roof damage, but water-related impacts were truly devastating. One homeowner told us that her house had flooded, with water rising to 55” inside the home.

Figure 5: (Left) Boat moved from driveway of house to backyard by surge; (right) damaged interior due to inundation (Source: AIR).

Residents reported the surge reached as much as a half mile inland, likely damaging any homes that were not appropriately raised.

Figure 6: (Left) Wind damage; (right) surge damage (Source: AIR).


Conditions were generally comparable to Little East Neck in nearby Massapequa, another coastal location. Light wind damage was commonly seen, along with evidence of significant flooding (debris, contents littering the streets).

Long Beach

The area of Long Beach was slightly different than the other coastal towns surveyed. There were many more apartment buildings and hotels, with residential structures located a few blocks inland. Most of the apartment structures nearest the coast had brick or concrete walls that fared well, but large amounts of contents had been discarded and lay in piles along the sidewalks. Wind damage was observed on about 5% of houses closest to coast, and many vehicles seemed to have been left exposed or abandoned during the event.

Figure 7: (Left) Apartment buildings in Long Beach that experienced wind damage and contents loss; (right) automobile left on several inches of sand after surge waters receded (Source: AIR).

Farmingdale Airport Area

Sustained winds of 45 mph and a gust of 71 mph were recorded in the Farmingdale Airport area. Like the area around MacArthur airport, this is an inland location, so the AIR team was looking for wind damage only. About 5% of structures near this wind measurement had experienced some wind damage. With one exception of siding damage, all instances seen were roof related.

Another report will follow about additional areas surveyed in New Jersey and New York.

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