Updated 09/04/2010 07:44 AM
Storm Scare Affects LIRR, Amtrak Train Service
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Hurricane Earl bypassed the city, but travelers received the worst effects of the storm on Friday, as the Long Island Rail Road reduced service to eastern Long Island and Amtrak suspended service to Boston.
The hurricane slowed to a Category 1 system, with winds around 85 mph, down from 140 mph early Thursday, but it was still expected to bring high waves and dangerous rip currents to the city's beaches.
The storm was expected to impact eastern Long Island, so the Long Island Rail Road suspended some service on the Montauk line east of Speonk, N.Y.
On the main line, trains were not going east of Ronkonkoma, but service west of Speonk and Ronkonkoma was operating as scheduled.
Normal LIRR service returned Saturday morning.
Amtrak also suspended its service between New York City and Boston on Friday afternoon, after a tree fell into overhead lines in New London, Conn.
Some travelers were trying to catch a bus out of Port Authority Bus Terminal or near Pennsylvania Station.
"My best friend's in Boston and my friend from Oregon is flying out here. I was looking forward to seeing them, so hopefully I can get up there," said one stranded traveler.
"I need to get back working, I was one vacation for a few days, you know?" said another. "So I'm going to have to miss work if I stay down here."
"I start school on Tuesday, so I had to go there before to get ready for school, but everything is cancelled," said a third traveler.
The Fire Island ferry also stopped running at 3 p.m.
LaGuardia Airport reported delays of about 30 minutes, John F. Kennedy International Airport had delays of about 40 minutes and Newark International Airport had delays of about 15 minutes.
Along the city's coasts, residents were buying supplies and boarding up homes as a precaution.
The city Parks Department closed Rockaway Beach in Queens to swimmers on Friday. Surfers enjoyed the high waves in designated areas and beachgoers remained on the sand.
Parks officials were to decide on Saturday whether to reopen the beach to swimmers.
"Everything in the backyard, anything that would be blown away by the wind, we put away in the house,” said one resident of Sea Gate, Brooklyn. “Any windows that need to be boarded up, we board that up, and just keep everyone in the house and away from the storm."
"We're prepared because we have the steel shutters. It's a simple thing, they're electric. You just push the button and we have, like, a little castle here," said another.
North Carolina emergency operations teams were assessing damage in the Outer Banks. Flooding was reported in several coastal communities and hurricane warnings were in effect for parts of Massachusetts. One to two feet of water covered the roads in some communities and thousands on the coast have lost power, though Earl is staying farther offshore than expected.
Meanwhile, New York City’s urban search and rescue team, New York Task Force One, arrived in Massachusetts Friday to help deal with the storm and its aftermath.
Eighty-one members of the police and fire departments, along with four search dogs, left East Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Friday morning. The team is trained in the use of specialized equipment like listening devices that can detect a heartbeat and motion detection devices.
"It's a proactive response to be pre-positioned in the Massachusetts area so we can respond to the situation if the need arises for us to perform search and rescue on the coastal areas of Massachusetts,” explained FDNY Battalion Chief James Yakimovich.
New York Task Force One was also deployed to Haiti following the earthquake in January.