It’s been months since Superstorm Sandy and life is back to normal — at least for most of Fairfield. Driving down the Old Post Road, I wouldn’t guess some families along the beach still don’t have power. Their houses are dark and empty, while the homeowners tackle insurance, FEMA, and new building codes. For months, the sound of the shore has been drowned out by the hum of hydraulic jacks lifting houses and the whirl of backhoes and trucks driving by. Contractor vans dot our streets, while some families ride it out in compromising rentals or with relatives. I live here and now that spring is here, my neighbors and I are having to pay for new bushes, trees and flowers.
Yet, good things did come from the storm. I’m thinking about a beach cleanup organized by local Fairfielders; at first we had two strangers cleaning the property, but it quickly increased to ten. Seeing them rake my yard, I was grateful for these kind people. Neighbors I knew only as acquaintances loaned out their generators, drove their SUVs through high water to get to houses, and offered sheer manpower. Even in the middle of knee-deep, freezing, black water, my heart was warmed through again and again. At Christmas, the Fairfield Ludlowe High School Key Club hung wreaths on the doors of dark houses.
The thing about this neighborhood is we love it here. It has a sense of community and family, and I would not change living here for a second. My closest friends live within a two-block radius. We watch each other’s children, pick up the newspapers and scout the UPS guy for vacationing neighbors’ packages. We walk our kids to school, our dogs on the beach and to our neighbors for pick-up parties, snow storms, and sometimes just for a cup of coffee or a bowl of sugar. Really.
“We could have sold our property and left the beach area,” says Jen Gardner, “but we are jumping through hoops to make it work so our children can continue to grow up in this family-like community.”
Julie Anderson agrees. “The houses might look different, but the sense of community is what draws us back. Living outside the beach in our rental has made us appreciate the neighborhood even more and we can hardly wait to rebuild.” We will rebuild, clean up and carry on. We are lucky to live here, and even though Mother Nature threw us a curveball, the birds returned and, fingers crossed, some budding bushes and trees. It is time for the sand to be warm under our toes.