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City Island Copes with Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

By Jeanmarie Evelly | October 30, 2012 3:06pm

CITY ISLAND —  In the wake of Hurricane Sandy's wrath, City Island is coping with flooding and the loss of one of it's longtime seafood joints, Tony's Pier Restaurant, which was ravaged by a fire last night, residents and fire department officials said.

"We're in quite bad shape," said 87-year-old Jacqueline Kyle Kall, who's lived on City Island for 62 years and runs Port of Kall Realty. She said she and many of her neighbors decided to stay and  weather the storm, despite a mandatory evacuation order for the island issued by the city on Sunday.

"I was home, and all my neighbors were," she said. "We all stayed."

Kall said that she and other residents are without power and that nearly everyone is dealing with water in their homes.

"Flooding was terrible," Kall said. "Everybody got water in their cellar. Some people have pumps, some people don’t."

Kall said the island, a small, close-knit community that's home to fewer than 5,000 residents, was beginning to return to life Monday morning, albeit slowly. The IGA Supermarket on City Island Avenue re-opened and so did the local Dunkin' Donuts, she said.

John DeSio, a spokesman for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., said City Island is scattered with downed trees. He also said the iconic giant neon lobster on the sign for the Lobster House Restaurant — one of the first sights visitors see when entering the island from the City Island bridge — had fallen off during the storm, though workers were trying to put it back up this afternoon.

The FDNY had assigned additional units and staffing to City Island prior to the storm, a spokesman said.

Diaz and his staff were on the island this afternoon to visit the site of last night's fire, which gutted Tony's Pier Restaurant, located at 1 City Island Ave., at the southern end of the island's main road.

An FDNY spokesman said it took over 145 fire personnel to bring the three-alarm fire under control just before midnight last night. No one was injured in the blaze, the cause of which is still under investigation, officials said.

"FDNY units had difficulty accessing the location - located at the end of City Island Avenue - due to downed trees and flooded roadways," FDNY spokesman Frank Dwyer wrote in an e-mail. "The heavy wind and rain, and flooded roadways made this fire extremely difficult to fight."

Tony's, a longtime neighborhood restaurant known for its fried shrimp, fish and chips and other seafood staples, was completed gutted by the blaze, according to DeSio.

"It's very sad right now," he said, adding that Diaz had met with the owners this afternoon.

"They're vowing to rebuild, and we're vowing to help them in any way we can," he said.

Diaz planned to visit other Bronx neighborhoods throughout the day on Tuesday, DeSio said, including Harding Park, which he said has been crippled by floods from the storm.