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South Shore Of Long Island Preparing For Irene's Best Punch

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Locally, it was known as the Long Island Express, packing winds of more than 120 mph.

Conrad Teller, now the mayor of Westhampton Beach, was in the third grade during the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.

As he recalled the storm, which left 50 people dead, Teller said no one knew what was about to hit.

1010 WINS' John Montone reports: Remembering The Long Island Express


"There was a haze over the village for two or three days, as I remember, a light fog," Teller said Thursday. "All of a sudden we got it."

More: Track Irene's Path | Hurricane Resources | Evac Zone Finder

Great Hurricane of 1938
This September 1938 photo provided by the Boston Public Library shows a damaged ferry boat sitting in shallow water in Providence, R.I., following the deadly hurricane of 1938 that hit the Northeast. (AP Photo/Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones)

Photo Gallery: Decade's 11 Worst Hurricanes

Teller's father was the police chief at the time and he told his son that the first wave was a foot high and came over the sand dunes and the second swept over the telephone poles.

The storm destroyed almost everything in its path, leaving only two houses standing and a concrete bridge broken in half.

Staying Ahead Of The Storm: What You Need To Know If Severe Weather Hits

Now, Long Islanders are bracing for the wrath Hurricane Irene may bring.

Irene is expected to trundle up the East Coast bringing heavy, soaking rains and fierce winds when it gets to our area over the weekend. CBS 2's Lonnie Quinn is calling for anywhere from 7-10 inches of precipitation on Long Island by the time the storm moves out of the area on Monday.

In Nassau County, residents of the barrier island, including Atlantic Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Lido Beach, Long Beach, and Point Lookout are now being told to prepare for possible evacuations, reports CBS 2's Katie Fehlinger.

"You have to recognize that you're living here on an island, and island living represents certain risks. And those risks appear now, at least, to be tracking toward us," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.

Meanwhile, public shelters are being prepared throughout the county. Initial locations include: Nassau Community College, SUNY Farmingdale, and Locust Valley High School.

Nassau Community College will also serve as a special needs shelter for those requiring medical attention.

Residents with pets will be directed to a specialty shelter at Mitchell Park's field house.

Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray said her community is prepared for the storm.

"We're ready to go to war with Irene, we've been preparing our weapons for battle," Murray told 1010 WINS. "We have not seen the threat of a storm like this in decades. This could be the perfect storm."

In Suffolk County, local leaders are calling for voluntary evacuations of western Fire Island. Depending on the trajectory of the storm, mandatory evacuations could be called for by early Friday.

"Even if we don't take a direct hit, we are certainly going to get wave action and we may see some minor coastal flooding," said John Searing, the Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County Fire Department.

Long Island's campgrounds will be closed Friday. Beaches will remain open until the riptides intensify.

People on the mainland are not taking any chances by underestimating Irene. One man in the Suffolk County town of Greenport started boarding up his house Thursday afternoon. By Thursday night many folks were following suit. Back in Nassau, Terry Katz said he was lucky to stock on enough wood to cover up all the windows in his new waterside home in South Bellmore.

"They're running short. I have somebody coming to put it on and we figured we'd buy it tonight before they run out. You know there's gonna be a run on them so we're trying to get a jump on it and hopefully stay safe," Katz told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez on Thursday night.

Long Island Power Authority crews have been cutting down trees to prepare for Hurricane Irene.

LIPA's Vaneesa Baird Streeter said the company has cancelled all vacations for their 550 employees and they may be required to work extended hours.

"We secured on-island personnel to assist in restoration efforts, and we secured off-island personnel as well," she told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall.

Streeter said right now 550 workers from Pennsylvania are set to come to Long Island if the hurricane hits.

Last year, LIPA was criticited for spending over $30 million on preparations for Hurricane Earl, which was a no-show.

"We have to prepare for the forecast and we will always do that to err on the side of our customers," she said.

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On LIPA Preparations


Residents in coastal communities are being urged to fill up their gas tanks, have a three-day supply of canned food, bottled water, a flashlight, a manual can opener, a battery-operated radio and a first aid kit.

Hardware and grocery stores in Freeport were packed with people prepping for Irene. Supplies like water are running out fast.

"Every place I've driven by, the parking lots have been full so I said let me get it today because there won't be any tomorrow," Merrick resident Harold Valestin told CBS 2's Sanchez.

"Getting some batteries and all that. They're out of flashlights here at Home Depot. It's getting crazy over here," Oceanside resident Kris Polanco added.

In Islip on Suffolk's south shore, the threat of Irene has many residents paying attention.

One woman who has a home right on the water told WCBS 880's Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs, "At this point, I'm going to be watching the news, take the necessary precautions, and just wait."

WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs On The South Shore


Kyle Winder said he has to worry about possibly getting hit by Irene twice. He has a vacation home on Ocean Beach and just outside Raleigh, N.C.

"This is my family's house so my stepmother is going to ride out here while we ride it out down there," Winder told 1010 WINS' Mona Rivera.

1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reports: Irene Interrupts Vacation Plans


Michael Fazio, property manager of up to 20 residences, was putting up storm shutters and clearing decks of potentially airborne furniture ahead of the weekend's wild weather.

Donna Jordan and Juanita Medina, who are vacationing at Fire Island's Ocean Beach, said the storm has interrupted their plans but they are remaining optimistic.

"Maybe we'll stay, maybe we won't. We're just playing it by ear," Jordan said.

Are you prepared? Let us know below...

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