Waking up to the first day of November, just four days after our town was hit by the worst storm, the First Selectman Michael Tetreau said “since ’92”.
Emerging from a meeting he held for residents this morning at the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church. The pitch and anxiety seen on the faces and expressed by the questions was palpably felt. It is clearly understandable. We are largely in the dark.
The church was not filled to capacity, owing to the fact that many residents without power have no access to news of any kind. It was surprising for a town of our size there weren’t more people there, or should I say, aware. Sandy has retreated but what lies in her wake is devastating.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara said that the town has “bifurcated” concerns. He was speaking to the issues that are affecting residents on the coastline and those inland. The beach has water that has collected and flowing back inside homes. Residents on Fairfield Beach Road cannot gain access and had questions regarding the X’s marking them, and paperwork posted that remains confusing. Sewage containment in the water is scaring those who don’t where to begin with remediation. “Should I call my own plumber?" “Is it ok to live on my second floor, with the downstairs flooded?” “Why are you closing the shelter?”
In Greenfield Hill trees are blocking roads. Trees have fallen on top of homes and many seem precariously balanced on or near power lines.
Everyone is weary and tired and Chief MacNamara is right to point out that residents are geographically challenged depending on where they live. However as one town there is one need in common — it is the need to know what is happening, when it’s happening and how it will happen. Residents did not feel comforted by being reminded of the magnitude of this event, they are seeking solutions. Many ask why we don’t have a radio station? Why hasn’t a station allowed a local broadcast that would reach residents who are without power? It is evident that there were far more questions than answers today.
Where I sit, as I write this story, there is a house submerged in the water. There is a kitchen floor and cabinets lodged along the inlet. There are houses that are splayed apart with contents of lives pouring out, exposing what is left behind.
Linda Richmond, a 3rd generation resident on Pine Creek Avenue texted me “It is absolutely sad and devastating for the Fairfield Beach homeowners who lost it all. We saved a box of someone’s photos for them.”
Kevin Coles, another generational resident clung to a rope tied between docks as the water level climbed. He told me this summer that his father bought the house he now owns 80 years ago. Newlyweds, Bob and Allison Haug drove back from Philadelphia. I met them along with many other newer homeowners who have shuttled and kayaked across the creek to check their homes.
Thinking back to the questions being asked in the meeting, some were critical of the job our town has done. Blaming UI for not working fast enough and failing to be better prepared, does not an alliance create. We are in this together. And we can help one another by passing information to one another, and as one resident said, “Town Hall has paper and staplers. Print out updates and make this a ground game.” Distributing them to people’s mailboxes, fire and police stations, even Stop & Shop can help us.
Donna Karnal who is a CEO of search firm in Southport said “Like many of us who aren’t able to work right now, is there a way to help get food to the people who are without? Is Operation Hope up and running? Where else might we help?" She said she has a lot of food, as do many others that she would help organize to donate. Susan Cortelessa of Southport also wanted to mobilize residents who might help where help is need urgently. Reverend Alida Ward addressed the audience briefly at the end. She said that opening the church to the meeting harkened back “to when this was the way people had town hall meetings.” She was gracious and whatever faith or partisanship sat in her midst she blessed us without being asked.
Here are some useful links for donation and volunteer information as well as updates for the Town of Fairfield:
For information on food, ice, water and charging stations, please check the town and police websites and Facebook or contact the Call Center at 203 254-4899.
CT Food Bank is open and accepting food donations. Hours are Monday – Thursday 7am to 3:30pm, Friday until 2pm. (As of Nov. 2, they have no power or phones). Please bring your donations to 74 Linwood Avenue, Fairfield. You can also donate onine to their virtual food drive for Sandy victims »
Linda Patscot has had a successful career as CEO for Pulse, a marketing research firm specializing in behavior and trend analysis for Fortune 500 companies. Her interest in politics and medicine inspired her to found BirthRoad, a consultancy helping intended parents explore 3rd Party Reproduction. She lives In Fairfield with her family where she is currently writing a book.
Linda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org