Sandy rips through cottages at Old Lyme's Hawk's Nest Beach

Hawk’s Nest Beach in Old Lyme saw some of the heaviest storm devastation in the region. Many of the summer cottages along the shore had porches torn off, foundations undermined or entire fronts ripped away.

“We have no more house,” said Wendy Mosely of East Lyme, whose aunt, Denise Tracy of Lisbon, owns the cottage, which had its bathroom, porch and first floor swallowed by heavy waves. A television set, chairs and other furniture were strewn in the back yard. “I came out here at 6:30 this morning to check and I was crying. It was horrible.”

Next door, a woman stood crying outside her cottage, chewed open by the storm surge. The streets of the beach community were covered by about two feet of sand, and homeowners were using snow shovels, garden shovels to dig sand out of back yards and garages.

“It’s a lot worse this time (than Tropical Storm Irene),” said Laura Trinks of Harwinton as a small bulldozer pushed at the heavy, wet sand, trying to open the road so utility trucks could get in to restore power. Trinks owns two houses at Hawk’s Nest with her husband, Paul. “Our house on the water was moved (and) had some structural damage. We can’t open the front door, so we’ll actually have to break into our own house.”

Wethersfield resident Mary Beth Maluccio said she and her husband had just closed up their cottage for the winter last weekend and were back Monday afternoon to assess the damage. The house, she said, was rebuilt after the 1938 Hurricane, but has endured successive onslaughts from Irene and now, Sandy. A retaining wall beside the house was washed away, the stairs to the front door and the plumbing underneath the house are gone. They hadn’t yet been inside.

“Last year the roof blew off just after we had put a new roof on,” she said. “We replaced some of the pilings before the storm last year. That’s the only reason it’s still standing.”

Christopher Garvin and his family own about 50 rental cottages at Hawk’s Nest. Monday afternoon, he was pushing the sand into piles to be returned to the beach.

“You’ve only got six million more yards to go,” joked a passerby, as Garvin paused for a break.

Garvin said he lives at Hawk’s Nest year round, and stayed through the brunt of the storm Monday into Tuesday.

“I came down during the night and I saw the chimney come down on Number 34, and then the house went into the water while I was watching,” he said. “The water was waist deep on the road.”

Damage at other beach neighborhoods in Old Lyme, including Sound View and Miami Beach, appeared much less than at Hawk’s Nest. The parking lot of the town-owned White Sands Beach was buried in sand and the access road was flooded, but most of the homes seemed relatively unscathed.

j.benson@theday.com

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