Virginia Pecor Moore, 90, watched as men and boys in orange shirts worked to find the asphalt buried under several feet of sand on the patio of her beachfront cottage that sits near the tip of Fairfield Beach Road.
"They are wonderful. All of them. They've been working like they were getting paid double," Moore said of the volunteers who showed up at her door to help Sunday morning.
From 10 a.m. to dusk, 1,036 registered volunteers joined homeowners and renters along a 3-mile stretch along the Fairfield shoreline and also along Pine Creek to try and undo some of the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy less than two weeks earlier.
Both United Illuminating and Connecticut Light & Power reported Sunday that all Sandy-related outages have been repaired for homes that are still habitable. Temperatures Sunday also reached into the 60s, providing the perfect weather for the cleanup.
Organized by three women who grew up in Fairfield -- Lindsey Morton, Katie Boland and Kelly Niznansky -- the event attracted an army of support from residents, Boy Scouts, civic groups, Fairfield University students and alumni, and others who simply heard about the effort on Facebook or through the media.
Morton said with power restored to most homes, it was time to move in and help out.
A staging area in the Jennings Beach parking lot also served as a collection point for cleaning supplies and nonperishable food items. Dozens of local businesses and restaurants donated food for volunteers.
Boland, a Trumbull High School teacher, used skills she honed organizing Habitat for Humanity projects to deploy the army of volunteers. Neighborhoods were broken into divisions and had team captains. Everyone had cell numbers to report problems or call for additional help. Some 70 teams of volunteers were sent out in groups of 15 to more than 150 homeowners who had requested assistance -- not only those directly on the water, but others on nearby streets as well who needed help clearing their yards of debris.
They brought with them rakes, shovels, gloves, large plastic bags and wheelbarrows.
Joe and Jeanine Puma, who live farther up on Pine Creek Road, came with a backhoe.
"We bought it about six years ago for a project we needed done and had it up in Vermont," Jeanine Puma said. Her husband drove up to get it Thursday when their neighbor asked them to help clean up some properties. The couple heard about the Fairfield beach cleanup and decided to volunteer.
"This is just unimaginable. Totally unimaginable. You see pictures and aerial views. Seeing it first hand is just tremendous," said Jeanine Puma, working a shovel, while her husband zipped back and forth on the John Deere frontloader.
At 1187 Fairfield Beach Road, a team of Fairfield University alumni worked to unearth the grass lawn that used to be behind Justin Galletti's parents' house.
"I came here this morning and they were already at work. They have been at it all morning," said Galletti.
Alex Hsiao, his next-door neighbor, said she wished she had a before and after picture of the house, since everything looked so different.
"I thought it was going to be like Irene," she said, unprepared for all the water and sand that got inside.
Matt Murphy, a Fairfield University alum from the Class of 2010, came from his home on City Island, N.Y., to help. He didn't live on the beach as a senior, but many of his friends did. Some 300 Fairfield University students were displaced by the storm.
Murphy said the docks where he lives now in New York were washed away in the storm, but surveying the damage around him, declared Fairfield Beach to be in much worse shape.
"It makes me feel sad. I loved being here senior year," added Michaela Chatel, another Fairfield alum who spent most of her time hauling furniture and carpeting out of houses so that contractors could get to work.
"She had a bunch of sand in her yard," said Jonah. Something like 4 feet of it.
Herman, 66, who grew up in the house, said this was the worst. She said she was grateful for the help.
"I always heard people say '38 was bad, '55 was bad," she said. "This was, I think, the worst."
In back of 1691 Fairfield Beach Road, Carla Strobel laid out photographs and record albums across flat surfaces, hoping a gentle ocean breeze would dry them out. She had just moved into the house in August. Also airing out was an antique baby stroller that Strobel said her grandfather had as an infant.
"I have -- had --a picture of him riding in it," Strobel said. Despite what she lost, Strobel said she felt really very lucky.
Most every house along the way had tall piles at the curb of wet mattresses, cushions, broken furniture and tree limbs. Toward the end of Fairfield Beach Road, there were several houses completely broken by the storm, with walls ripped away or pushed off foundations.
Though all that separated Moore's summer house from Long Island Sound was a wooden wall that is no longer there, the one-story structure built by her father in 1945 was wet but still in one piece.
"There used to be six beautiful rose bushes here," she said, trying to describe the sand-covered patio as it was two weeks ago. "It all washed it all away."