Rain Drains Northport Merchants [Video]

Summer thunderstorms Monday reminder to all that more needs to be done about Main Street flooding.

Jasmine Koc held a cup of coffee in one hand and squinted through the rain as she jimmied the door to her storefront. 

It was raining heavily Monday morning and already a deluge of stormwater flowed down both sides of Main Street like twin rivers. Koc, owner of , came down to the Village to ensure the water hadn’t reached her door. 

She held out little hope of seeing any clients. Not when it rains in Northport.

“When it’s raining on Main Street, no one comes to town,” Koc said. “Their car gets stuck in the water.”

It was 10 a.m. and already Koc planned to call it a day. She estimated closing her shop due to the weather would cost her 30 clients and $1,000 in revenue.

The threat of flood has already proved costly in another way. Koc claims her insurance company recently dropped her because of flooding concerns.

“The rain doesn’t help,” echoed Al Mott, co-owner of , who estimates foot traffic goes down 15 percent on a rainy day.

While several merchants declined to make waves about water along Main Street, since Northport was founded.

“The Village sits in a valley,” explained Village Administrator Gene Guido, who said several drainage improvements have been made in recent years.

It begins with a trickle running down Laurel Avenue and picks up speed as it rounds the bend. By the time stormwater reaches Church Street it comingles like the headwaters of some great river. The downward slope of Main Street carries the torrent down to Northport Harbor. 

On this day, rushing water reached as high as the hubcaps of parked cars. That's nothing compared to a rainstorm during high tide.

“It doesn’t happen as often as it used to,” said Flemming Hansen, owner of and president of the . “It’s gotten better. They added more drains.” 

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Residents can remember days when children surfed down Main Street.

The stormwater runoff, which drains into Northport Harbor, is so prolific that the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in. The Village, pushed by the EPA, in September 2011.

The at the end of March.

Flooding is not an everyday occurrence. But it happens enough that has its own gang plank. The walkway was on display Monday morning.

And it's that fear of flooding that may keep potential customers away from the Village when it rains. You never know what you will find.

“Stay open, make the best of it,” Hansen advised. “Do like the Theatre if you need a walkway across the water. But these storms don’t last all day.” 

True enough. By 11 a.m. the torrent subsided to a trickle and the Village returned to life. But it’s clear this waterfront community’s blessing is also its curse – especially for local businesses.

Kathy Waszczak June 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM
When I was a young girl, In the middle 1960's I grew up in Northport, on Laurel Avenue, I walked downtown many times with my 2 brothers to go to the movies at the theater. We always went to the Midway store to buy candy first, and we had many rainy days where the curbs were so swelled with water that it was hard to jump over the river, especially at Main and Church and Ocean. Our town runs down hill towards the Harbor for GOOD reason.
Jason Molinet June 26, 2012 at 12:47 PM
@Kathy I'm sure that's true of children today.
Louise June 26, 2012 at 12:51 PM
If it's raining and I need to get to the Village, I try to park in one of the lots. If they're full, I leave and return later. A few years ago my husband went to Family Style Salon which was next to the Engemann Theater and parked in front in his small sports car. The car actually started to float and when he ran out to move the car, he was almost knocked off his feet by the force of the moving water. Besides this experience, I don't want to ruin my shoes!
Jason Molinet June 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM
One of the merchants I spoke with loves wearing heels but abandoned them for flop flops.
Hilory Boucher-Carlin June 26, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Managed to run the Cow Harbor 10K Sept. 18, 2004. Hurricane Ivan caused the timing mats to float away and dilute the beer. It became a running/swimming event.
Amy Waldhauer June 26, 2012 at 05:30 PM
"Flooding has been a problem in Northport since its inception." Often, paths and road run along old stream beds. If you look at the older streets in Northport, you can see how water is guided down the slopes to the streets and how it runs down to the harbor. Think about the corner with St Philip Neri (Main/Ocean/Church). The water runs down Church and Ocean and then it runs down Main. This is weather and geography. We built our roads on top of a natural drainage system. If we want to control the water now we will have to make a huge new drainage system. Do we want to spend the money on that (with the rise in taxes that inevitably follows)?
Jason Molinet June 26, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The question is: Are local merchants willing to take on some of the financial burden? After all, they would see the greatest benefit.
Louise June 26, 2012 at 07:24 PM
To Hilory - LOL! That is dedication. On a more serious note, my inclination is to say "no" about creating a new drainage system. The deluges are not frequent; we can live with the occasional Northport River. However, one idea would be to create a gulley on either side of Main Street between the roadbed and the curbs to lessen the occurrence of rushing water on the sidewalks. I'm not an engineer, but would that help a bit? Would the cost be prohibitive?


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