Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, Rhode Island is one of the most popular beaches for Connecticut residents in the summer. Hurricane Sandy's storm surge rearranged entire swaths of the beach and swept some homes and businesses right out to sea.
Tim Brennan opened the Two Little Fish restaurant last year, right across the street from the beach. After a great first season he said he was ready for Sandy though he didn’t expect it to be this bad. Brennan spent most of the day Monday shoveling the sand that surrounded his restaurant.
“It’s very hard to get your bearings,” Brennan said, “It’s big mounds of rubble and piles of sand. It’s just a little mind boggling.”
Many of the dunes that protect Misquamicut Beach were eaten up by Sandy’s waves. The storm surge was so powerful that when it breached the dunes it ripped apart buildings that have stood for decades, tossed boulders and pieces of concrete, and carried two-ton containers hundreds of feet.
Sam’s Snack Bar, a Misquamicut institution, is nowhere to be found. The surge pushed the building across Atlantic Avenue and smashed it into thousands of little pieces. Equipment like sinks, signs, cash registers, and ice machines litter the sand-covered landscape.
The Ride A Wave Surf Shop will need to be torn down. Sandy’s surge left several feet of sand in the building covering all the leftover merchandise.
“There’s about four feet of sand here right now,” owner John Sheil said. “And we’ve already taken out a few feet.”
The Two Little Fish restaurant survived thanks to a huge pile of sand out front that acted like a dune and diverted water around the building.
“We’re extremely fortunate,” Brennan said, “As soon as we get dug out here, because there is five or six feet of sand, we intend on helping our neighbors.”
Paddy’s popular outdoor bar and patio is gone and the building is in rough shape. Owner Frank Labriola says he expects to be able to salvage the guts of the building but will have to rebuild a significant portion of Paddy’s.
“It was pretty horrific,” Labriola said, “I wasn’t expecting that rubble and debris and lack of a deck. Everything was thrown upside down.”
The flooding extended well inland flooding countless homes in the residential neighborhood north of Atlantic Avenue. Piles of rubble were stacked along roads for block after block.
Hundreds of volunteers have stopped by to help clean up following Sandy. The cleanup, however, has really just begun. If you’d like to help you can register here.