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Ledyard — When Hurricane Sandy hit the region on Monday, Mayor John Rodolico was nowhere to be found. But he had a good excuse — he was stranded in China.
Rodolico, who was on a Chamber of Commerce tour of China, was scheduled to fly into John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday. He didn't make it back to Ledyard until Thursday afternoon.
"The first nine days of the trip were fantastic,'' he said Friday from his office in Town Hall. "The last three days, not so much.''
Rodolico and other Americans waited for a flight home at an airport hotel in Shanghai and watched reports of the storm's devastation on television. Most of the images were of New York and New Jersey, he said.
While it was frustrating not to be home, he said he was in constant contact with people in Ledyard, including Town Council Chairwoman Linda Davis, who is deputy mayor.
"The main thing is, Town Hall never closed," he said. "It was staffed by town councilors, Linda Davis, the mayor's staff and mayor's assistant. There was always someone there to answer the phones.
"My not being here was not a factor, in terms of communication with residents,'' Rodolico said.
The town had planned for just such an emergency, he said, 10 months earlier, and was prepared.
As for the trip?
China, he said, has an incredible economy and is in the midst of a major public relations push, trying to attract business. Shanghai is like no other city he's ever seen.
"The skyline is like out of some type of cartoon,'' he said. "It has the tallest buildings in China, and they're building even higher, and you're also seeing the old society."