The Peconic Riverfront parking lot in Riverhead flooded by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. File photo: Peter Blasl

Hurricane Sandy roared ashore in New York as a post-tropical cyclone on Oct. 29, 2012, accompanied by a record-breaking tidal surge of nearly 14 feet, submerging entire communities, destroying thousands of homes, leaving nearly 2 million customers without power, flooding New York City tunnels and subways, and causing major coastal erosion.

A massive storm nearly 1,000 miles in diameter, Sandy resulted in 72 direct deaths across eight states, at least 75 indirect deaths, and more than $50 billion in storm damages — making it, at the time, the costliest storm to impact the United States since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It caused impacts in 24 states.

The storm’s repercussions included prolonged power outages and a gas crisis across the region, caused by flooding and power failures at supply depots.

Sandy led to the ouster of the CEO of the Long Island Power Authority and the eventual overhaul of Long Island’s electric utility system by privatizing management operations, turning the system over to New Jersey-based PSEG, and restructuring LIPA. Sandy left more than 80% of LIPA’s customers without power, including more than 11,000 customers in Riverhead.

The storm prompted NOAA to re-evaluate how it communicates information about storm surge impacts, one of the most significant hazards associated with Sandy, according to a May 2013 report by NOAA on the National Weather Service’s performance during the hurricane/post-tropical cyclone dubbed “superstorm” Sandy.

One of the report’s recommendations implemented by the National Weather Service immediately was a new policy to issue warnings for dangerous storms like Sandy even when they are expected to become post-tropical cyclones by landfall. Sandy was a post-tropical cyclone when it made landfall in the New York region.

Video published by RiverheadLOCAL on the five-year anniversary of the storm

Riverhead and the East End were spared the worst of Sandy’s wrath. Some local roads were under three feet of water, trees and power lines were toppled, some beachfront homes were damaged or destroyed, and the local coastline suffered major erosion.

There were three-foot waves in the Peconic River, something Aquebogue resident Duane Lewin told RiverheadLOCAL at the time he’d never seen before. The Long Island Sound looked more like the Atlantic Ocean.

Flooding and power outages shuttered businesses and schools for days. The Riverhead High School gym became a Red Cross shelter, where 391 local residents sought refuge on Monday night, Oct. 29.

RiverheadLOCAL started a live blog on Oct. 27, 2012 as the huge storm system bore down on the region. Reporters, residents and officials communicated on the live blog, which continued through Nov. 6.

MORE COVERAGE: Hurricane Sandy — before, during and after the storm

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.