Town Manager's Report: Sandy's aftermath
Tuesday morning a rainbow was spotted framing the island in its perfect arc — a beautiful site that was in contrast to the view at eye level across our east beach and the eastern coast of the entire country. Sandy lived up to her hype and the combination of wind and tides wrought havoc as predicted. On island we suffered damage — but no one was injured and no structures were lost to the sea — and the damage is minimal in relation to the images we see flashed across our screen from New York and New Jersey.
First and foremost, a resounding thank you to all the town personnel who worked before, during and after the storm to prepare us and keep us all safe. Be sure to say thank you when you see members of the Police Department, Road Crew, Fire Department, Rescue Squad, plus the emergency management directors, Harbormaster and Building Inspector. Many of them spent a long Monday day and night assessing the changing circumstances to better protect us all. And an additional thanks to all the volunteers who came out to assist in the aftermath: clearing the Beachead property, picking up trash and debris off the beaches, and just generally offering to assist in any way.
As to our current damage assessment, here’s where we stand: Corn Neck Road alongside the Beachead to Beach Avenue was severely compromised, and Spring Street along Old Harbor Point was considerably undermined also. Both roads are closed in those sections as of now. The North End parking area by the monument is also impassable at this time. The state Department of Transportation responded immediately on Tuesday morning and sent three engineers over in the afternoon to assess the damage and to begin planning for repair. These are all state roads and federal funds are available for use. Luckily these road closings don’t present an access problem right now… and DOT made a point of acknowledging that they anticipate repairs will be done by late spring. Please do not walk near the outside edge on Spring Street by Old Harbor Point as the whole area under that road has been undermined and could be dangerous.
Bluff erosion was substantial, also, in this storm, so please exercise caution and avoid approaching the edge of any of the bluffs.
The east dock in Old Harbor was “unhinged,” as it were, and a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers was on the early boat Wednesday morning to assess the damage. No vehicles should traverse that dock, but it is sound otherwise. The docks the town installed all survived unscathed, as did the harbormaster shack, which was built to the specs of a flood zone.
The Beach Pavilion sustained some damage, with the water coming through during the Monday night high tide, but structurally it is fine. Doors and railings will need to be replaced, and the roof repaired. The dunes were substantially altered, both there and along the entire stretch of beach on the east side of the island… a testament to the power of the ocean.
Verizon flew two techs over on Tuesday afternoon and urges anyone who hasn’t reported a phone outage to do so, and to check back with Verizon if they are not contacted by a repairman.
Interstate has resumed its normal schedule, after the Coast Guard verified that the Old Harbor channel hadn’t been compromised; and it is reported that there was no flooding of the parking lots in Galilee for those of you who have cars parked there.
If you have had damage to your home from Sandy you should contact the Building Department @ 466-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org so they can evaluate the damage and provide you with a rapid evaluation safety assessment form. The information could help Rhode Island reach the disaster declaration standards and will assist your insurance company in processing any claim you may have.
This past week was a reminder to us all of the power of the ocean — and the need to heed warnings when they come. Thanks to all who helped and to all who heeded the warnings and stayed safe.