Two Years After Tornadoes, Residents Still Recovering

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Exactly two years ago Friday, tornadoes tore through parts of Connecticut, leaving unbelievable devastation behind. It was May 15, 2018, an afternoon many on one Hamden street won’t forget.

“I heard the sounds and then my radio went off,” said Samantha Walters.

“It was like Armageddon,” said Roberta Guarino. “You couldn’t walk in the street, you were climbing over enormous trees and telephone poles.”

“We were blindsided by that one,” said Guarino. “We were expecting I think thunderstorms that day. None of us were prepared fort that.”

An EF-1 tornado barreled through town trapping residents.

“UI, our public works and emergency management literally had to plow a path through a road and turn wires off to get kids out of a school,” said Hamden Mayor Curt Leng. “And they had to stay overnight. You couldn’t get there. “

Several tornadoes left a path of destruction, sending wind damage through Wallingford, knocking down wires in Oxford, and sending trees through homes in Brookfield. Guarino, who has several family members living on the same street, said she’s grateful.

“The best thing is no one got hurt.”

Cleanup quickly followed, with first responders on scene clearing a way for people to just get in and out.

“I came the day after and had to park at least two miles away,” said John Guzik.

Around the area, months and years of rebuilding followed. Guzik helped several families on October Hill Road get back into their homes. His company, JG Siding and Remodeling, replaced kitchens, bathrooms, sidings and structuring in homes. One family finally retuned to the street in January, a year and a half later.

“For me it was a lot of work and you know, trying to help people out in a tough time,” said Guzik.

Today, the neighborhoods look much different. People are still trying to get back to normal, but what happened here continues to be a close memory.

“We’re rebuilding a garden now because we have no more trees and full sunlight is hitting the back yard,” said Guarino.

They have done a lot of work in the backyard, rebuilding the pool and their pizza oven, which took the brunt of a downed tree. They, along with others carrying the financial burden.

“Our claims are in but we haven’t gotten money back so it’s been tough.”

Leng said the town is still waiting for one payment as well. Four of five FEMA reimbursements have come back.

“We were able to pay down some of the expenses that we had,” said Leng. “We had between $2-3 million in expenses from the storm.”

It’s one lasting effect from the storm.

“We’re working with public adjusters, we’re still battling. We are still battling,” said Guarino.

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