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Despite Damage, Clam Bar & Crabby Jerry's Owner Hopes for Summer Return

"'We shall return,' as MacArthur once said," said Bill Claudio.

Despite roofs torn off at Claudio's Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry's after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the region, and severe damage to the two docks protuding into Greenport Harbor, the owner of two of the most popular summer destinations in the village – and the entire North Fork – said he is optimistic he'll have both open by the summer season.

Bill Claudio said the damage sustained during Sandy was on par with the worst storm he's seen in his 70-plus years – since 1954's Hurricane Carol. On Wednesday afternoon, he described efforts to get back up in running in somewhat of a "holding pattern" as assessments continue to be made on the docks.

"'We shall return,' as MacArthur once said," quipped Claudio.

Situated barely off the water, Claudio's Restaurant fared better than the Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry's, and was up and running within 36 hours of the storm. Staff had elevated equipment in the restaurant on cinder blocks so nothing was below 16 inches, Claudio said. The restaurant got over 10 inches of water on the ground floor, though not enough to do too much harm.

The Claudio establishments were surely not alone in feeling the effects of Sandy. Frisky Oyster Owner Robby Beaver reported seeing close to 70 inches of water in his basement, Cotton Capers owner John Karabeles reported water levels that were chest-deep in his shop, and Scrimshaw is hustling to prepare for Thanksgiving while operating its bar in the meantime.

But the Clam Bar and crab shack, due to their unique positions on the water – literally – remain in a class of their own. Currently, Claudio said the docks are taped off to the public and have been cleared following an intensive effort in the first week to clear much of the debris.

"The docks are such a mess that we don't want anyone out there," he said. "We've fenced it off so nobody falls through the holes, planks or what have you."

Village-wide, Mayor David Nyce said that Mitchell Marina weathered the storm rather well considering the severity of the storm.

"All things considered, the damage is fairly minor considering what it could have been," Nyce said. "We have actually been doing some repair work beforehand, so every once in a while we get it right."

Figuring out what Claudio's Clam Bar and Crabby Jerry's has to – or what is permitted to – be replaced has yet to be determined. The business owner has yet to make an application with the Department of Environmental Conservation, which would oversee the permitting process.

"In a situation like this, I would expect the DEC to be fully understanding of the severity of any problems we would have due to the storm and I'd hope they would be ready and willing to assist," Claudio said. "But it's too early to make an application, until we know the costs and have the contractors ready to go with it."

The regulatory agency has posted a specialized 'storm information' section on its website since Sandy hit, complete with updates on fishing, drinking water, and a "Hurricane Sandy General Permit" meant for "the immediate stabilization and protection of shoreline properties that have a low risk of causing further damage to the coastline or adjacent properties."

Costello Marine co-owner John Costello said that his company, which specializes in wetland construction, is currently overwhelmed with requests to shore up people's waterfront properties. And from what he's seen so far, he said, "the DEC has been more than helpful."

It's getting the estimates out that's been the hard part, he said.

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