The weekend blizzard walloped East Lyme, Old Lyme, and Lyme, but it brought out the best in people, who reached out to help neighbors in need. Here are just a few of their stories.
Many people who took refuge at the shelter in East Lyme were brought there by police officers and the National Guard because they were unable to get out of their homes.
"The National Guard were supposed to come but they were too busy. I came at 7 p.m. via the police department," said an East Lyme woman who lives at Crescent Beach. "My neighbor plowed me out so they could come in and get to me."
Paula, who lives at Giants Neck Heights, was also picked up by East Lyme Police Department. "I couldn't get my doors open," she said.
East Lyme Police Sgt. Joe San Juan came to her rescue, clearing the snow from her door and then having her walk in his footprints to the car. "He got me here safe," she said. "He's got big feet!"
East Lyme Police Sgt. Bruce Babcock used the same technique to help Niantic resident Dr. Josephine Beebe get to the shelter late on Saturday night, wading through snow that was thigh high. It took a while for both of them to get out, because they needed to call for a plow to help them get out.
Beebe said she decided to come to the shelter at the urging of her children, who worried about her spending a second night in a cold house. She was delighted to see that two elderly neighbors who she'd been trying to reach were already there. She also ran into her former sister-in-law, who was at the shelter with a health aide.
"It was just a nice reunion," Beebe said.
Red Cross Volunteers And Local Businesses Rock—And So Do the People They Help
Beebe, who volunteers her services as a psychologist for the Red Cross for major disasters, was one of many people staying at the shelter who also volunteered to help out.
Niantic resident and professional chef Wayne Rawls (who ran Tyme and Place in New London) stepped up to the plate, literally, and volunteered to make the chicken soup—which was excellent, by the way!.
"There's such community spirit that happens at these shelters," said Beebe.
Local restaurants donated food. East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica, who owns Flanders Fish Market and Restaurant, donated dinner on Saturday and provided meals on Sunday too. (The Red Cross paid for the second meal, telling him that they didn't want him to donate a second time.)
Guiliano's Bakery in Niantic donated breakfast on Sunday, and not without great effort. The bakery was so snowed in that Guiliano said they had to tunnel their way through at least four feet of snow which had banked up against the door to the pantry and then had to ask East Lme EMS to jimmy the lock to open the door to get the eggs, sausage and bacon needed to make the meal.
Two people from Old Lyme called the Emergency Operations Center for a ride to the shelter from Robbins Avenue and Miami Beach at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
"They came right away and got us out," said Angela Bazzano, who lives on Robbins Avenue, adding that town offcials were able to reach the house only because a helpful neighbor had plowed her driveway.
The two planned to spend Sunday night at the shelter if power wasn't restored until late. "It's wonderful, clean, they do everything for you," Bazzano said.
Jan Briscoe, who lives nearby in Old Lyme, offered to give both Bazzano and Fogarty a ride home if power came on sooner.
"We drove here and brought our poodle," Briscoe said, adding that she had done the same thing during Superstorm Sandy. Briscoe's dog was one of nine that stayed at the shelter Saturday night under the watchful eye of Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk.
Getting rides home from the shelter proved to be almost as long a process as getting rides there. The Red Cross wanted to make sure that the elderly or infirm would be returning to homes that had power and that they would be safe.
Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsynder, who stopped by the shelter to visit with Old Lyme residents, said the town checks up on everyone on its list of people with special needs. Old Lyme EMS would be providing rides home to many local residents and, as a matter of course, they ensure the home is safe, right down to the state of food in the fridge.
"It would not make sense to take anyone home if they weren't safe," said Reemsnyder.