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After the Storm, Block Island

by Rosemary Tobin

If anyone was wondering about the place that you vacation to and love I wanted to give you a little update after Sandy has left our shores.

We all felt the stress of the storm, waiting for the power to go off, waiting for a tree to fall, and checking on everything in the yard, looking in on the kid/s, assuring you, friends and family that we are going to be okay…we would survive this.

As many did, most of us on Block Island drove around during the day taking in the spectacular waves and seeing all of our men and women “batten down the hatches” (I love when I can speak pirate!). We also made up hurricane games and took sips of beverages every time the news casters used the term “hunker down”.  It’s silly how one reacts, somewhat of a celebration to the power of Mother Nature.  We have been very lucky on the Island in the past few years, but this time the celebration soon turned to concern for not only our home but all the others that were also in Sandy’s path.

Here on Block Island we were very fortunate, the “Storm of the Century” did some damage but not as much as mainland Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey. There were parts of the Island that lost power but for most of us we had power through the storm. Selfishly, I caught up on one of my favorite shows, Homeland.  We experienced very high winds, some gusts over 100 mph and the storm surge, due to the full moon high tide, did some major damage to the State Beach House, Spring Street and Corn Neck Road. More tragically most of our dunes that protect our Island from erosion are no longer there.  

I awoke early, as everyone on the Island did, we all rushed to the east side of the Island to find most of Corn Neck Road, in front of the Beachhead and the Solviken property gone. As I walked along the road I felt a certain admiration for the power of the ocean and complete sadness for what was once there. There was also a good portion of Spring Street in front of the Spring House that the continuing, pounding surf unearthed everything beneath the road. The road is currently blocked off so the usual short trip to the Southeast Lighthouse now becomes an Island tour.

Ballard’s Inn on the beach and the State Beach House received the worst damage, as much as they tried to protect the buildings the power of Sandy broke through the doors and the sand and sea entered unwanted. For Ballard’s Inn, it is extra unfortunate since the family owned resort was just remolded this past year. 

This little Island is a resilient place, I think one of my favorite quotes that I heard listening to the local news, was one from our Police Chief, Vin Carlone. The reporter asked him what he thought about evacuating the Island and his response was “most of the tourists from the Island have left, our year round residents should be okay, they are used to this type of storm.” As much as that is true, Sandy was devastating to the “life” of the Island.  As a resident of a place I love it is heart wrenching to walk around and see how she was hurt, part of the Island that will never return, parts that I have walked on with my child, parts of the Island where we have enjoyed countless beach parties, walked our dogs, stopped to watch the surf, parts that are somewhere out there now with all of our memories.  

Block Island will be the same again, with time everything will return to normal and I will drive down Corn Neck Road this coming summer and be annoyed by a biker, a moped or someone walking on the road and then I will be remember and be grateful that we are all here, all enjoying this amazing place that we all love. 

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so glad you and your loved ones are safe. Storms like Sandy teach us all to appreciate our lives and not take anything for granted. My husband and I visited your fair island just this past September and loved it and its people. God bless.

Karen Moran