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Book lovers turn out to help Mystic shop

Mystic - The effort to save more than 100,000 books from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy became something of a community effort on Tuesday.

The staff of Bank Square Books joined with movers, book lovers and passersby alike in the effort to pack and cart upwards of $300,000 of inventory into moving trucks. The flurry of activity follows a decision by owners Annie Philbrick and Patience Banister to move their entire inventory to drier ground while carpets are torn up and daily book shipments are halted.

"This morning, we looked at each other and said we can't do this by ourselves," Philbrick said.

The movers were called in, and word went out over Facebook.

Marci Casey of Mystic, a frequent visitor to the book shop, said she happened to pop her head in on Tuesday and saw the exasperated looks on the owners' faces. She knew help would be needed.

"We love the bookstore and were sorry to see they had flooded," said Casey, who was joined by her children Jack, 10, and Nora, 8, at the bookstore on Wednesday.

Friend Kristen Scherer and her children, Graysen, 10, and Tate, 8, also pitched in to pack books into some of the 400 crates.

Like most of the shops in downtown Mystic, the store was inundated with water during Monday night's tidal surge. And while books were moved well above the floor in advance of the storm, the carpets soaked up a fair amount of the brackish water.

Philbrick said the building owners accommodated the entire children's section in a vacant apartment above the shop. Even without carpets, the store needs to be dried out to prevent the onset of mold. The carpet will be replaced by tile.

But two days after the water came in, the shop, along with others along the popular shopping and tourist hot spot, still did not have power or the means to dry the store.

"We need to be a priority," Philbrick said. "The longer we're out of business, the worse off we'll be. I'm stymied until the juice comes back on."

She was not the only one to express her frustrations about Connecticut Light & Power to state Sen. Andrew Maynard during his tour of the area Wednesday afternoon.

"This is really tough," Maynard said. "Obviously, this has been a hard year between the construction and the bridge work."

Meanwhile, a closure of the Mystic River drawbridge scheduled for Thursday has been postponed indefinitely because of this week's storm.

Stonington First Selectman Ed Haberek originally said the planned 54-hour closure had been moved to Nov. 8 -10, but state Department of Transportation officials said Thursday no date has been set.

When the closure does occur, the bridge will be closed to all vehicles, pedestrians and boats.

The closure is needed to install a safety barrier on the span that will prevent cars from driving off the open bridge into the water from the Stonington side if they bypass the safety gates.

The 54-hour closure is the first of two that will be needed in the last season of the rehabilitation project, which is scheduled to be completed in April 2013. The second, which will occur next year to conduct the final balancing of the bridge, has not yet been scheduled.


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