(WPRI) -- Superstorm Sandy severely damaged all kinds of property up and down the East Coast just five months ago. But, thanks to a lot of helping hands, an amazing amount of progress has already been made.
The Rhode Show recently took a trip down to South County and was amazed by how far the town of Westerly’s come since Hurricane Sandy hit. Many of the beaches have already opened and local businesses are back up and running. This summer, Misquamicut Beach will be the same summer destination it's always been.
Caswell Cooke, Executive Director of the Misquamicut Business Association and a long-time resident of Westerly, joined The Rhode Show to share his experience with Sandy.
“I came down with the Town Manager, Governor, and the Director of DEM. I looked around and felt like I could really understand when people tell stories of the ’38 hurricane," Cooke said. "When I looked at Misquamicut, it was just flat."
But he stayed positive and immediately they started to clean up.
"Everyone had to rebuild and everything had to be put back together and we did it. Now the beach is going to be better than you remember it," he said.
In Misquamicut, the storm damaged everything -- the roofs, the solar panels, and the electric and plumbing systems.
We also spoke with the Chief of RI State Parks, Bob Paquette who told us, “Hurricane Sandy affected a lot of our facilities and beaches, particularly down here in Misquamicut, Scarborough, and East Matunuck," Bob Paquette, the Chief of Rhode Island State Parks, said.
Not only that, a lot of debris had to be cleaned out of the sand and then reapplied to the dunes and beach itself.
“A lot of the sand blew into the parking lots – three feet of it! Contractors had to stock pile it up and then sift the sand to get any big particle out," Paquette said.
As for the local businesses, Caswell told us that 98% of them are back, including the landmark places.
The beaches and businesses need still need support, and Washington Trust is doing their best to help with their ‘I LUV RI’ Facebook campaign. Head to a Washington Trust branch in your area to open a new checking account and you’ll receive a free beach pass!
“We want people to get their beach passes, then come down and support the local businesses, as well as attend the wonderful summer events held at the beach,” said Elizabeth Eckel, the senior vice president of marketing at Washinton Trust. “This will really help the Ocean State’s economy get back and share everything we love about the state!"