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Hermine who? Why the storm that wasn’t stands as a warning

SEA BRIGHT, N.J. — Her name means "woman of war" in Old German, and while Hermine packed a punch on the coastline of the New York metro area, her overall effect was much more like war games than actual conflict, much to the relief of many, from residents to emergency managers. Still, the tropical storm left reminders as to why war games are done in the first place: to be prepared for the worst.

"This? This is ridiculous," said a long-time Suffolk County, Long Island resident walking his dog on the beach near Port Jefferson. In using the word "ridiculous," he wasn't referring to our region's possible overreaction to the storm. He was referring to the heights and intensity of the waves that Hermine caused along the shore. "This is real big waves," he told PIX11 News. "I haven't seen them this big in a long time."

Another beachgoer, Angela Mason, on a far different beach, Sea Bright, on the Jersey Shore, gave a reminder of Hermine's fury as she watched the 15-foot high waves crash against the shoreline.

Her parents, in Myrtle Beach, got inundated, she said, as well as her "family in Orlando and family in Clearwater." Across the southeast U.S., Hermine left hundreds of thousands without power, and hundreds more with flooded homes. The fact that the Tri-State region was spared from a genuine risk of coastal flooding and other devastation that had been forecast, was not lost on people who've experienced those conditions.

Superstorm Sandy, they say, provided lessons they cannot forget.

"In Sea Bright," said Susie Markson, assistant beach manager there, "we say, 'Gosh, we wish we could have kept the beach open,'" but, she added, the devastation of Sandy dictates all future reactions to any tropical storm threat.

Sandy flooded or washed away all of the downtown area of this town that lies between the Atlantic Ocean and the Navasink River. Both waterways converged when Sandy hit, causing total devastation.

With that in mind, said Markson, regarding Hermine's diminished threat, "Thank God it wasn't worse."