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September 1, 2011
Clintons Hunkered Down in East Hampton as Irene Passed By
By BARBARA GRAUSTARK
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. — Over the years, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton have been occasional visitors to the serene, breezy corner of East Hampton where Lily Pond Lane meets Georgica Beach amid the bayberry and beach plum. Sometimes they were guests of Steven Spielberg. But this is the first time that neighbors had seen them not as casual day visitors but as householders.
Five days before Irene struck, neighbors say, the Clintons and their Secret Service entourage put down roots in a large-shingle 1920 “cottage” on Lily Pond Lane with commanding views of the ocean and Lily Pond. The house is owned by Eli Hirschfeld, son of the parking lot magnate Abe Hirschfeld, and surrounded by black pines and Rosa rugosa.
Even as their neighbors evacuated, some returning to Manhattan, the Clintons decided to wait out Tropical Storm Irene, convinced, Mrs. Clinton told a neighbor, that it would weaken.
It did eventually weaken, but the Clintons’ house, like most along this beach, lost power.
Ever since Irene passed, the pair has been seen strolling the pristine beach, shadowed at a respectful distance by Secret Service agents, commiserating with neighbors about power failures, downed trees and walkways washed out by the storm.
On Wednesday, they were walking holding hands, Bill in his khaki long shorts and Hillary almost hidden beneath a pink hat and turquoise shirt, as the steps to the Hirschfeld house were being reconstructed, said Curtis Eaves, owner of a landscape design firm. The couple stopped for a photo-op.
The Clintons have apparently recovered power in at least part of the house. Mrs. Clinton told Mr. Eaves that as long as they had power in the kitchen, and phone service, “we weren’t going anywhere.”
Mr. Clinton was not complaining about a few days in a beach house without lights. “Everything is relative,” he told Mr. Eaves. “I’m worried about the people who were flooded and lost their homes.”