Misquamicut assessment continues; residents able to return home today

Westerly - A slow and steady cleanup in the Misquamicut Beach neighborhood means some residents will be allowed back home today.

Residents will need a re-entry pass verifying they live south of Shore Road, or Route 1A, which has been under a mandatory evacuation since before Monday's massive storm. It's uncertain when power will be restored, and business owners along First Street to Atlantic Avenue will have to wait until at least Friday morning to return.

When they do, it will be to a changed landscape. Work to remove the "hundreds of thousands of cubic yards" of sand on Atlantic Avenue plugs along, Town Manager Steven Hartford said Wednesday, but isn't complete. That sand is being stored at the state beach, Hartford said, until it can be removed. The sand could be reused if it is not contaminated, but otherwise new sand will eventually be brought in, he said.

"But the roads are our number one focus so people can get back," Hartford said as he worked from the town's Emergency Operations Center at the police department on Airport Road.

A preliminary assessment of structural damage will be completed by today, Building Official Dave Murphy said. Stoplight-like placards - green is OK, yellow means caution while red means "unsafe: do not enter" - adorn each home and business, giving an initial indication of what the work to refurbish will take, Murphy said.

"No decisions have been made on condemning buildings," Murphy said.

Many beachfront businesses, such as the Andrea Hotel, have red placards. Farther down the beach, the destruction speaks for itself. Even once the sand is removed from Atlantic Avenue, trash and debris await. And what the community will look like next summer is still in question.

"Residents that can't get to their homes are getting impatient, and we understand that," Hartford said. "We're working as hard as we can to reunite them with their property."

s.goldstein@theday.com

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