Many state residents are likely feeling an unpleasant sense of deja vu as Hurricane Sandy causes flooding along the coast. Some towns are still recovering from last year’s Tropical Storm Irene.
That’s the case in East Haven, the city where a little over a year ago Irene hit the coast at high tide, damaging dozens of homes beyond repair and pulling some into the sea entirely.
In August, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited the town to mark the one-year anniversary of Irene and to assess the recovery effort. Some homeowners were still rebuilding, others had chosen to move on.
Now residents are hunkering down again as Sandy floods the town’s coastal areas. Reached at home, state Rep. James Albis, a Democrat from East Haven, said the town evacuated around 30 streets ahead of the storm.
But all things considered, Albis said East Haven and its residents are well prepared for Sandy.
“It seems like the town is in a very good position to deal with this. We had a lot of lead time,” he said.
Albis said police and fire personnel are at the ready along with representatives of United Illuminating. But the town’s residents were also taking the storm seriously. Albis said he spent the day making calls, and found that almost everyone he talked to who lived in an evacuation area was leaving to find a safer place to stay. A shelter set up at East Haven High School had more than a dozen residents stay over Sunday night. More were coming in Monday. Others are going to stay with relatives.
He said the experience of Irene probably has people more inclined to take the proper precautions. Even people who may have ignored evacuation orders in the past are getting out of the way this time around.
The town is expecting to experience damage. By most accounts Sandy looks to be more severe than Irene.
For his part, Albis said he still had power at 3 p.m. He said his home is high enough in elevation that he won’t be flooded, but if current trends continue, the block of land his house sits upon may get cut off.
“I’ll basically be on an island,” he said.
Michael P. Lawlor, the governor’s senior criminal justice adviser, also lives in East Haven and said he likely will be in the same boat later tonight when water floods the only two avenues out of the area where he lives.
From his condo, Lawlor said he could see a line of homes that have only recently been rebuilt after they were damaged during Irene. They seemed almost completely surrounded by water Monday, two hours after high tide. The houses were rebuilt with higher foundations in an effort to prevent them from being destroyed by waves again. For the time being, Lawlor said the new foundations seemed to be doing their jobs.