Irene Anniversary: One Year Ago

I share a little about my experience with the storm and introduce you to the town leaders who are going to recount their storm days in the coming week. Have a story to tell or photos to share? We want to know.

When I first moved to Branford, everyone kept talking about the .  I would often roll my eyes when someone brought up this antique storm. Then I lived through .

Even though Irene was not even a hurricane when it hit our coast on Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28, the storm surge equaled or even rivaled that of the ’38 hurricane as some locals account. This is certainly an act of Mother Nature I won’t soon forget.

Like some of you who live along the coast, my apartment was badly damaged during the storm. We were forced to move from our rental home in Indian Neck to higher ground. While it was easy for us to leave, many of our dear neighbors spent months cleaning up the aftermath, trying to piece back their idyllic slices of New England shoreline one shovel of sand at time.

I can tell you the storm surge I witnessed that Sunday morning was like nothing I have ever seen before and hopefully will never see again. The waves crashed over the power lines; the jersey barriers were tossed like Styrofoam blocks. Mounds of sand covered Route 146 and somehow we all survived, save for the jellyfish, starfish and shellfish that lay sun-scorched on my front lawn days after the waters subsided.

I learned a lot during Irene and watched many town officials learn too. Many of them, including Public Works Director Art Baker, Town Engineer Janice Plaziak, Fire Chief Jack Ahern and First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos worked around the clock to help keep the town running when we were all without power for as many as eight days and then spent countless days, weeks and months, cleaning up Branford and making things right. I asked our fearless town leaders to tell us about their Irene experiences. Meet today and check back everyday this week to learn more about those who cared for Branford during and after the storm (click on the link to read).

Thanks for sticking with Branford Patch. It was nice to weather the storm with all of you. 

Want to share your Irene story, photos and videos? Post them to our announcement section.

Want to see our coverage? Check out the stories below .

Before heading off to college, Greg Nobile ventured out to get one last P! News segment. Trying to find out what people where doing to prepare for Irene, Greg learned that water was the biggest seller among residents; the lack of water, he also learned, was quite the issue.

Just before the storm came rolling through town, department heads gathered at  in the Emergency Operation Center to handle preparation. For the week after the storm, the center was manned with people answering the phones, trying to help people get back on their feet. A job well done by Branford!

As anxiety about the coming storm began to rise among residents, organized their before-storm meeting to be sure they were ready for anything. And ready they were!


Through the storm, the town kept everyone up to speed through e-mail and text message powered by their emergency notification system . The last message pertaining to storm coverage was sent  stating that cleanup efforts were underway and just about 50 CL&P customers remained without power.


After realizing my former neighborhood of Indian Neck was getting washed away, I forgot my own troubles and grabbed the camera. Without cell or internet service, North Branford Patch Editor Jenn McCulloch helped to post my initial photos from during and after the storm. Other photos by area photographers were added to this gallery as covered progressed.

It’s my job to document so even though I knew it was stupid to go out into the middle of the storm, I just had to. Armed with my camera, which has since taken on some water, I videotaped the storm surge along Limewood Avenue as well as the flooding of side roads. It was truly amazing to see what mother nature is capable of destroying.

Soon as I realized the gravity of the after effects of the storm, I knew I was not going to be able to get photos of everywhere in town. I asked Branford Patch readers to share their photos and more than 90 picture strong, this gallery continues to grow. It’s a true snapshot of town and devastation Irene caused for so may people all over.

About 700 to 750 feet of Linden Avenue in Pawson Park was devastated by the storm surge of Tropical Storm Irene. Town Engineer Janice Plaziak discusses the remediation process with Patch.

Right after the storm, everyone rolled up their sleeves and began hauling debris to the dump. In an effort to make things run more smoothly, the town extend the hours people could bring brush and other items. The dumb will stay open for extended hours today until 6 p.m.

While it was clear that power restoration was going to take some time, Branford’s  had to declare that the school start date . He kept the community informed by posting updates to the school website and finally determined the .

Senator Richard Blumenthal meets with First Selectman Anthony “Unk” DaRos and other area leaders to talk about the issues with CL&P's slow response for power restoration. He calls Power Outage ‘Disaster that Followed the Natural Disaster.’

After frustrations over CL&P’s slow power restoration efforts continued to amount among residents of Branford and other affected communities, the power company issued a press release stating they were ramping up efforts. Shortly after this press release was distributed, Branford started to see the lights come on for some; many, however, were left in the dark until later in the weekend.

On a tip from a reader, we traveled down to Halstead Lane in Pine Orchard to compare his photos of the devastation of the Hurricane of 1938 to the aftermath of Irene.

As we recovered from the storm, many people went above and beyond to help neighbors, family, and even strangers. We asked the community to nominate deserving people as Local Heroes. Stay tuned to meet them in the coming weeks.

As it became apparent that Branford had a lot of people in need of help, the town was able to secure FEMA aid and distribute water, batteries, flashlights and MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) to the most compromised populations in town. Later  that it will set-up shop in town for residents to log damage information; doing this will help with aid assistance. 

What story or piece of information did you find most helpful or interesting during or after the storm? 


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