U.S.|Henri is barreling toward the Hamptons, ruining vacation plans.
- Aug. 21, 2021, 5:35 p.m. ET
At the tip of a barrier island running along the southern shore of the Hamptons, restaurant staff piled outdoor tables and chairs into the basement on Saturday as sport fishing boats and yachts were being brought out of soon-to-be-surging water.
Christine Oakland-Hill, the owner of Oakland’s Restaurant & Marina, was among those preparing for the worst as Hurricane Henri approached the Hamptons, the upscale vacation destination on the eastern side of Long Island. “It’s quite emotional — this is our livelihood,” she said.
When Hurricanes Sandy and Irene battered the area about a decade ago, the road to the restaurant was impassable for days. That made Ms. Oakland-Hill worried about losing business in the peak of tourist season, as Labor Day approaches.
“This is kind of it. We have 10 weeks to make it,” she said.
After days of watching Henri’s path shift, the Hamptons have emerged as a likely recipient of the storm’s strongest blow when it makes landfall on Sunday.
“The Hamptons might be the bull’s-eye in terms of the worst of Henri,” said Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, who added that the area could be walloped by five feet of storm surge and winds of up to 80 miles per hour.
Southampton planned to issue a voluntary evacuation order to about 6,000 people on Saturday afternoon, according to town supervisor Jay Schneiderman, who expected other towns in the Hamptons to follow its lead. “We don’t get that many hurricanes,” he said.
Another 500 people were under a voluntary evacuation warning in the town of East Hampton.
Mr. Ramunni said he hoped that people on the vulnerable peninsula — especially the area’s many visitors — would heed the warnings. “There’s a lot of new folks on the island who may not be as prepared or used to this sort of weather,” he said.
Town officials worried that long-term power outages would cripple businesses still reeling from Covid-19 closures.
“It would probably trigger an exodus of those who have other options to go back to their other homes or elsewhere,” said Peter Van Scoyoc, the East Hampton town supervisor, adding that westbound traffic out of town was already mounting on Saturday afternoon. “Any interruption of the peak tourist season is probably going to be felt by business.”