Winter Storm Orlena Leaves an Impact


 Winter Storm Orlena (yes, she had a name) seemed to be the storm that never ended, as it brought snowfall over the course of three days, but some of her impacts may remain after the snow finally melts.

Snow began to fall on Sunday, January 31, with the heavier snow picking up late in the night, piling on throughout Monday and flurries continued to flutter on Tuesday afternoon as the storm finally came to an end. When all was said and done, Rockaway had topped at 18” in parts. The Department of Sanitation was hard at work throughout, clearing the roads, while neighbors took care of their sidewalks.

However, some effects may be longer lasting. In addition to heavy snow, Orlena also brought moderate flooding to the area and the beach took a beating as high tides and heavy waves chipped away at the dunes. In areas that regularly see flooding with higher-than-normal tides, such as certain parts of Broad Channel and lower streets in Rockaway, Orlena showed her strength. Some in Broad Channel made the best of it on Monday, pulling out the kayak to paddle down the street for a bit of entertainment. However other areas showed some scary scenes. On Beach 84th Street in Rockaway, a neighbor shared a video to Citizen App on Tuesday of a snowplow quickly reversing down the road that was submerged in at least three feet of floodwater that had allegedly came from the bay and up from sewers on the block.

As the storm started to subside on Tuesday, some locals took to the beach to check out what remained. In Belle Harbor, John Reinhardt captured the significant damage that was done to the dunes. His photos showed the blue mobimats and wooden fencing mangled as erosion of the dunes left cliffs several feet high. Down in the Beach 90s, John Cori captured the same as the ramp down to the beach looked more like a kayak launch and the remnants of the protective dunes kept the ocean just a few feet away from the boardwalk.

The significant erosion and flooding caught the attention of TV news outlets like NBC and CBS, which covered the issues in reports on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Locals noted the need for urgent help, with some saying they hope to see jetties built faster, sand replenishment to come soon and streets that frequently flood to be raised.

By Katie McFadden