[Note: This article originally appeared Nov. 1, 2012.]
Hurricane Sandy flooded and battered Westport’s Saugatuck Shores for more than 12 hours Monday, and while many residents evacuated the area before the waters rose to an unsurpassable level, some locals braved the storm.
Many homes flooded, while some began to rip apart as strong winds and rough waves crashed into them for hours.
Glenn Cucimell evacuated his wife and two children to a relative’s house in Redding, but he stayed behind to look after his home on Promiced Road, which is off of Harbor Road in the Saugatuck Shores area of Westport.
“I thought my house was toast,” Cucimell said.
At about 6 p.m. when Hurricane Sandy hitting land, Cucimell said the water level in his neighborhood was already “chest high.” High tide was scheduled to hit at 11:57 p.m. so he envisioned the water rising several more feet, which would have been approaching the second flood of his home, he said.
At one point during the storm Cucimell’s family insisted that he try to evacuate and get to safety, but the water had risen too high, he said. His wife was extremely nervous.
“There was definitely a frantic moment when I went to the upstairs bedroom,” Cucimell said. “It was a relief when the water didn’t keep rising with the high tide... I had a kayak tied up out back just in case.”
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During the storm Cucimell watched debris including large pieces of wood and propane tanks float around his neighborhood. His house only suffered very minor flooding because took the proper measures to seal up his home “like a bath tub” after Hurricane Irene pummeled the area in 2011.
“It’s over, so everyone is a little relieved it wasn’t as catastrophic as it could have been. So spirits are good,” he said.
Neighbors Art Powers, Jeff Zuckerman, and Cucimell all came together to hoist up the cluster of neighborhood mailboxes, which had drifted into a yard a couple of houses down the road. The team of neighbors then stabilized the mailboxes where they belonged – a few feet from the water.
Now that the waters have receded, power restoration is essential for Saugatuck Shore residents, who all have septic tanks that run on individual pumps.
Ruth Donohue, of Promiced Road, who has lived in Westport for 30 years, said she has never seen water rise so high and so fast in all of her years in town. Donohue said she would like to see power restored to neighborhoods that do not have gravity sewers.
“They’re leaving us down here without bathrooms,” Donohue said.
Zuckerman, who also lives in the neighborhood, was concerned about the situation because he fears many of the septic tanks in the neighborhood will fill up soon.
“We are facing a health problem here, in a few days,” he said.
When the mailboxes were finally in place and stabilized, Powers said,” Saugatuck Shoreans stick together!”