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Horton Ave. Residents Hunker Down as Irene Approaches

Mixed feelings about hurricane after severe flooding in recent years; supervisor says no risk of flooding.

Bruce Braunskill, a resident of Horton Avenue for the past six years, pointed to his cracked driveway where chucks of concrete and asphalt lay scattered. That, he said, was where severe flooding crept up to his house a year ago, stopping just 10 feet short of his front door sitting on higher ground.

But as for Hurricane Irene, which is battering the East Coast and is expected to make landfall in Riverhead early Sunday morning, Braunskill only laughed.

"I've lived in Riverhead all my life. I've been through every storm that blew through here," Braunskill said. "I'm a Vietnam vet. This don't worry me."

Braunskill is one of many Horton Avenue residents who were watching Irene inch closer Friday afternoon, but his confidence was unique in a neighborhood that said they were hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

In 2010 sudden heavy rains drenched the area and caused massive flooding that damaged 13 homes and drove many residents from their houses as floodwaters rose over their cars.

Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview Friday evening that flooding of that intensity was unlikely to happen again on Horton Avenue.

"Most of the flooding we're talking is coastal storm surge," Walter said, and added that rain forecasts have been reduced to between five to seven inches.

"You have to understand, when Horton Avenue flooded we had 10 inches in about an hour," he said.

While Walter assured there was no reason to worry, not all Horton Avenue residents shared his and Braunskill's confidence in the area's ability to weather the storm.

"Absolutely we're worried," said Horton Avenue resident John Kelly. Kelly said his parents lived in a house down the block until the 1980s when flooding drove them from their home and out of town.

Kelly said he didn't have an evacuation plan in place just yet.

"We're going to see how the rain and the wind is and play it by ear," he said.

Sherman Trent, who lives just up the block from where the flooding occurred in 2010, said he was concerned about his basement flooding in Irene's rains.

"If it gets bad, we'll most likely jump in the car and do what we gotta do," Trent said. "We got food and water. We're stocked up on supplies."

Other residents said they didn't plan to wait and see what happens before heading for higher ground.

Noe Garcia, whose family of four lives in a tiny house beside the collapsed remains of another residence on Horton Avenue, said his family was leaving their home for the weekend.

"Sunday there'll be too much rain," he said slowly. "Too much rain, maybe the tree [will fall down]."

For others, leaving home wasn't an option.

"We're staying here because I don't have another place to go," said Geobane Patcan. "We see the news, so we take care."

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