Alejandra Madrigal stood outside her Riverside Avenue home, with bookcases, tables and toys piled on the sidewalk and front lawn Friday afternoon.
It all came from her basement that flooded during Hurricane Sandy a few days earlier. When she first returned home after seeking shelter at a friend's house during the height of the onslaught, she didn't think things looked so bad -- it was just a few feet of water, after all.
Surveying her storm-ruined possessions that are being getting tossed out, Madrigal said, "I think it looks worse now."
Madrigal is typical of many beach area residents going through the same thing in the wake of the storm, though she said that all things considered, she and her family were lucky.
At least 26 homes on Fairfield Beach Road have been condemned as unsafe in Sandy's aftermath, and town officials expect that number to rise.
Large trash bins were fast becoming the new lawn decor of choice in town, as residents tossed out water-logged belongings.
The town plans a bulky waste collection in the inundated parts of town south of Oldfield and Old Post roads beginning Monday, and later will also start a townwide collection of brush and woody debris.
The town dump and Greencycle yard waste center on One Rod Highway will be open from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week until further notice to handle all the debris.
Residents who came to a public information meeting Friday afternoon at First Church Congregational were told town officials are doing everything they can to get them back into their homes, or least into once-flooded areas to get a look at the storm damage. National Guard personnel spent the afternoon shuttling beach area residents from Sherman Green to the shoreline neighborhoods to check on their homes.
"It needs to be a process," Assistant Fire Chief Scott Bisson said of the recovery, albeit a slow one. "We're still in make-safe mode."
Good news came out of the meeting -- United Illuminating had deployed 66 crews into Fairfield to press ahead with power restoration, First Selectman Michael Tetreau said. "That's the only thing that gives me any hope they'll meet 95 percent by Monday," he said of the power company's stated power-restoration goal.
Pumps were in place at the beach area moving water from the pockets where it still remained, returning it to Long Island Sound.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara and Tetreau said they want beach area residents allowed to return to their homes as soon as they can, but stressed homes that had been submerged first must be inspected.
At the meeting, pamphlets were distributing listing general information on the steps for returning home after the storm, including the services such as electricity, natural gas, water and emptying flooded basements.
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