Nightly News   |  September 02, 2010

Earl's pounding surf extends to NY shores

The approaching storm has forced beach closures in places where wild weather sometimes attracts a crowd. NBC's Peter Alexander is watching from the Eastern tip of Long Island.

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PETER ALEXANDER reporting: I'm Peter Alexander on Long Island . Already Earl's pounding surf and dangerous rip currents extend to the shores of New Jersey and New York . The approaching storm has forced beach closures in places where extreme weather can actually attract a crowd.

Mr. BILL WILKINSON (Town of East Hampton, New York, Supervisor): I don't want to see people endangering themselves, so caution's the word.

ALEXANDER: At this marina, Henry Uihlein has protectively hauled more than 100 boats to safety in the last two days.

Mr. HENRY UIHLEIN (Marina Owner): The tidal surge is going to be tremendous.

The......maybe even 10, 11, 12. That'll be above all the pilings.

ALEXANDER: A catastrophic hurricane has slammed the tip of Long Island before.

Offscreen Voice: Cutting a wide pathway of ruin in with it from the sea.

ALEXANDER: Back in September 1938 , wind gusts reaching 180 miles per hour hammered this coastline. The storm surge even split Montauk in two. More than 600 people died in what's remembered as the Long Island Express .

Ms. EMILY CULLUM (Montauk, New York, Resident): We still talk about it to this day.

ALEXANDER: First cousins Emily Cullum and Francis Ecker were just fifth graders then. In the days before satellite imagery, few here knew what a hurricane was.

Ms. CULLUM: Everybody's house was in your backyard. I mean, there was cottages. They were floating all over. Took three days for that water to recede.

ALEXANDER: On Long Island , they're anticipating coastal flooding again.

Ms. CULLUM: I don't mind the ocean as long as I know it's way out there.

ALEXANDER: Less than 24 hours until Earl's arrival, most agree this looming storm couldn't come and go soon enough. Peter Alexander , NBC News, Montauk, New York.