Hurricane Sandy blew through Connecticut faster than forecasters predicted on Monday but with much greater force than anyone expected.
At 9:00 p.m. Monday, Governor Dannel Malloy upgraded the storm assessment from a Category 3 Flooding Event to a Category 4, the highest possible warning. New London was one of the hardest hit areas in the county.
"The wind was unbelievable," said Sean Houser, who lives near the beach in New London. "It shook my house so bad and started bending trees over in the yard. I took my clothes and ran. I got turned around a bunch of times. All of Pequot Avenue was flooded, trees were down, power lines were down, a lot of roads were unpassable. The sea water actually came over the walls. There were fish in the front of my car! It was scary."
Houser said the storm ripped the roof off his neighbor's house. It also tore the roof off the Quality Inn in Mystic. Houser said he had to drive through a few backyards to get onto roads that were driveable but he made it to the Regional Shelter in East Lyme safe and sound. He had plenty of company.
Shelter from the Storm
The Red Cross Regional Emergency Shelter opened on Sunday at East Lyme Middle School to serve the towns of East Lyme, Old Lyme, Lyme, Waterford, Montville, and New London. The shelter's population swelled unexpectedly when New London's shelter closed down because there was some question as to how well the generators were working.
Dawn Davis, East Lyme shelter director, said 232 people spent Monday night at the shelter, including 60 people who were brought by bus from New London. The shelter's animal population increased also. The pet-friendly shelter gave safe harbor to 14 dogs, one cat, and a hamster.
Davis said that as power outages continue, the shelter is expecting to see more people coming in today and throughout the week.
"It could be that we wind up with a whole other wave of people again," Davis said.
The shelter is well-organized, however, and well-prepared to handle additional residents. "We have another 470 cots in the gymnasium," Davis said. "We have been so well-supported between people coming in and helping, shelter residents are volunteering, we have lots of donations, and the food's been really good. We have a kitchen staff that's really top notch."
Paul Winfrey of Montville, who came to the shelter when it first opened, seconds that. "The staff is excellent, friendly, the food is great. It's like being at a motel without paying the bill!"
Winfrey, who was getting ready for a breakfast of fruit, waffles and pancakes, granola bars, and coffee, said he is planning to stay at the shelter for the next few days and many residents are being advised to remain at the shelter at least until this afternoon. Many people will be going home to no power at this point.
A lot of people are now coming into the shelter to use the showers. With 200 people at the shelter on the shower sign-up sheet, however, there's a long wait. Emergency management in East Lyme has now opened East Lyme High School for community members to use the showers.
Please be advised that the Emergency Operations Center number for East Lyme was not working at 8 a.m. on Tuesday but people can call (860) 739-3410.