Much sand rearranged by Sandy

Before Hurricane Sandy, Margaret Aune had a view from her small house in Misquamicut of a 30-foot-high dune across the street, a wall of sand between her and the ocean.

After Sandy, Aune had a sweeping new view of the water.

The sand dune that once blocked her view is more than half gone, some of it swept up Aune's driveway and into her basement. There was so much sand in her yard, it cost more than $5,000 to have it trucked away.

Indeed, after Sandy there was sand all over this beachfront community in Westerly, in places where it isn't supposed to be, including several feet of it across the main road through town.

This week, all that sand was being collected, stored, processed and cleaned at the big parking lots of the state beach, in preparation to possibly put it back where it came from.

The rest of Misquamicut, which took about the biggest Sandy hit of any shoreline community in southern Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut, is in transition back to normal.

Some of the buildings that floated off their pilings and down the street have been moved out of the way. There is a high and long pile of debris - a wall, really - along every road: old furniture, appliances, soggy mattresses and splintered lumber.

Volunteers are working side by side with homeowners at the cleanup. Contractor trucks are everywhere.

So many rubberneckers cruise through town these days, storm damage tourists, it's almost looks like a Sunday in July.

A town-endorsed ecumenical service to "Bless our Beach" is being planned for noon Nov. 24 at the St. Clare Church Parish Hall, when all the church bells in town will ring.

Businesses have been working to put out the word that, no matter what people have heard, Misquamicut is still in place and will open on schedule for another summer season, when hopefully the only sand you see will be on the beach.

Aune told me that people suggest she must be happy that she suddenly has a clear view of the ocean.

"Everyone says it must be great," she said. "Well, it's not really. The water is too close."

Aune, who lives most of the year in Westchester County in New York, is considering selling the house she has owned since 1998 and moving farther away from the water.

It seems like evacuation orders and storm damage are becoming too common, said Aune, who added that the arrival of a second storm last week, on the heels of Sandy, was "creepy." Last year it was Irene.

A new water view might be the silver lining in the cloud of more storms on the horizon. But Aune is not taking any solace in it.

"The weather patterns have changed," she told me, after showing off the water mark in her basement that demonstrates how high the water rose, close to the ceiling. "We are going to have more of this."

I think she may be right.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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