Hard-hit Old Lyme still digging out after SandyPosted: Updated:
Across Connecticut, the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy is well under way, and in hard-hit Old Lyme, that means digging out from Sandy's massive storm surge that swallowed homes and covered roads with feet of sand.
Many residents still do not have heat, water or power and that sent them to emergency shelters at the Lymes Senior Center. Residents were provided with hot meals and a place to charge their devices.
"It was just so nice to have people around because when you're sitting there in the cold, the dark, this was very welcoming," said Manon Wind of Old Lyme, whose home flooded because of waves caused by Sandy.
"We're here to ensure everyone here is fed, warm and dry," said respite center manager Bill Archer.
Other residents are trying to make do without power - they're staying busy by cleaning up and repairing damage left in the massive storm's wake.
Ryan Garvin has been busy cleaning up at his grandfather's house on Hawk's Nest Beach. He said the beach used to be his backyard, but thanks to Sandy, the surf is now his front yard and everywhere in between.
"There are four steps that went down the walkway," he said. "Three or four feet. It's all buried. It's a lot of work to clean this up."
Garvin's family owns roughly 50 properties in the area and most of them suffered some sort of damage.
Two down at the end of the beach are literally standing on their last legs. Workers had to jack one of the cottages up after Sandy's strong surf wiped the pillars out.
But before they can get into most of the homes, they first have to be able to reach them, which means getting rid of all this sand.
"It's a lot of work," Garvin said. "A lot of shoveling. Just to get to the hookups for the houses like the water and septic and all that."
Further down the road at Miami Beach, the damage is everywhere.
"We just bought a house 30 days ago and a tree fell through it," said Janette Sielbeck of Old Lyme. "It was very scary. It felt like an earthquake."
As contractors work to shore up a deck, parts of homes litter the beach. And what once were decks and porches are now piled up against a house, no match for Sandy's surge.
"It's devastating," said Norman Yester, of Old Lyme. "The houses on the water are devastated. I don't know how they're going to rebuild."
Back at the shelter, hot meals are being served three times a day. On Tuesday, 160 people were fed and others picked up bottles of water.
Residents can also take a shower at the high school and pick up a bag of ice from the middle school.
"We learned some great lessons from Irene," said MaryJo Nosal of Old Lyme. "People need ice, particularly starting day two after an event. So, the town ordered ice early."
In the end, residents were thankful for the town's hospitality.
"It was a good transition from what we've been through," said Larry Thude of Old Lyme. "We spent the day cleaning up debris. This is a good place to take a time out."
The emergency shelter will remain open until 9 p.m. However, a regional shelter will run 24 hours at the East Lyme Middle School.
As for those running this place, they say they'll be here as long as they are needed.
"Coming here to a dry spot, having smiling faces, comforting words helped out," Wind said. "It really did."
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