More than a month after Hurricane Sandy's terrible force redrew the map of the Misquamicut Beach section of Westerly, RI, there are signs of progress.
A dozen construction vehicles hum and snort each day, moving sand and debris from the shoreline and adjacent areas. Plywood covers the Atlantic Avenue establishments damaged in the storm. Despite the imminence of the holiday season, yellow tape is still the dominant decoration, keeping spectators an arm's length away from the gutted first floors of residential and commercial establishments.
If you knew Misquamicut, you'd barely recognize the place. The vast state beach parking lot, jammed with cars and coolers from Memorial Day to Labor Day, looks as if it's a movie set for the latest sci-fi space-exploration flick — giant piles of brown seabed sand stacked one after the other for nearly a mile. Businesses such as Paddy's, Anthony's Restaurant and the Andrea Hotel still show obvious signs of destruction, with items salvaged from the flooding still air-drying outside.
Even though the landscape looks bleak, there's numerous signs of recovery. Contractors' pickup trucks buzz in and out of dozens of properties. The Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce's "Bring Back the Beach" fundraising campaign is already nearing its $100,000 end-of-year goal, according to the Westerly Sun, after a raft of donations came in last week. The chamber is also selling t-shirts to help raise funds, and donation jars have been placed in dozens of area businesses.
I took a ride through the ruins last week and shot some pictures and video of the progress. In the comments below, share your memories of the beach and what you think of the devastation.
If you'd like to donate to the recovery effort, go to the Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce's "Bring Back the Beach" page.