Hurricane Irene
Connecticut state officials and residents braced for the Saturday arrival of Hurricane Irene, a powerful and dangerous storm that could prove to be Connecticut's most serious weather event since Hurricane Gloria in September 1985. REUTERS

By midday Saturday, Nassau County officials and emergency responders were making their last preparations before Hurricane Irene makes landfall.

We've put in sandbags. We've put up boards. We've done everything we could possibly do, said Great Neck Park District Commissioner Ruth Tamarin in an interview in Kings Point, the tip of the Great Neck Peninsula.

There, the Park District has sealed off Steppingstone Park, a green space and marina built on property once owned by auto magnate Walter Chrysler. Before that, it removed a massive outdoor sound stage used to host summer time outdoor performances and pulled in floats from the marina.

By midday Saturday, the district had also closed a gate leading to the dock and marina, a favorite Great Neck gathering place where people watch Long Island Sound. Only about a dozen of an estimated 60 boats that had been docked there all summer remained.

The Park District also manages several other parks in the community of about 45,000, a section of the Town of North Hempstead in Nassau County, far north of where Irene could make landfall, in Long Beach or in the Town of Hempstead on the south shore.

Earlier, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, a Democrat, had called every home in the town of about 240,000, warning people in low-lying section near Manhasset Bay, east of Great Neck, to evacuate before 5 p.m.

These areas, including Manorhaven and Baxter Estates have suffered from previous storm surges in Long Island Sound, which separates Long Island from the Bronx, Westchester County and Connecticut.

Great Neck appeared relatively calm and quiet during a few downpours.

At Temple Israel, a Conservative congregation of 930 members, Malka Nebro celebrated her bat mitzvah on schedule. Her prophetic portion began with a verse from Isaiah 54, Unhappy storm-tossed one, uncomforted! a reference to Jerusalem. It was the usual liturgical selection and had no relation to Hurricane Irene.

Nebro said some of her relatives from out of state had cancelled attendance. Her father, Jose Nebro, a trustee of the congregation, said he had cancelled a barbecue for Sunday. A rental company had refused to erect a tent in his back yard due to the storm, he said.

Rabbi Howard Stecker devoted his sermon to a critique of Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author.

Friday. Associate Rabbi Seth Adelson sent members a statement Friday warning against theological misinterpretation of the storm. The weather, and the destruction that it may wreak, is not dependent on God's mood, or indeed our behavior, he wrote.

Plywood was installed on several of the windows of the red-brick Temple Israel building, built in the late 1940s, on the south and west sides. Maintenance employees said it was to prevent any wind damage.

Elsewhere, trucks from Nassau County, Verizon Communications and Long Island Power Authority were on patrol. In June 2010, after a micro-burst, areas of central Great Neck sustained major damage and as much as a week without power.

Subsequently, LIPA has made efforts to trim trees and prevent power lines from falling again.