It was one year ago that Superstorm Sandy slammed onto the Rhode Island coast. The storm raked across Misquamicut Beach, destroying businesses and dumping tons of sand onto Atlantic Avenue.
The streets are quiet in Misquamicut Beach, mostly the ocean roar and sounds of construction fill the air. Many of the motels and restaurants are closed for the season. But the New Land Motel and Apartments is open. Manager Rinette
Oulette said during the summer people would call asking if there was even still a motel to check in to. “A lot of people would call me and say, ‘you guys are still there?’ I said, ‘of course we’re still here, did you call to make a reservation?’ ‘Well, I didn’t know if you were still there, but you answered the phone,’” she said.
Businesses spent months scrambling to open their doors for the Memorial Day start of the season. To help them rebuild, the Greater Westerly Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce gave out $500,000 in grants. Chamber Executive Director Lisa Konicki said those grants made a big difference for businesses waiting for their insurance money.
“The Sea Shell Motel, I remember driving up one day and delivering them their monthly check. And one of the managers was in tears because they just told their contractors that they didn’t have money to continue for the following week," said Konicki. "Delivering that check to them on that particular day made the difference between whether or not they could go forward with work.”
Konicki said all but two businesses were up and running this summer. Her hope now is to get the Town Beach pavilion fixed and open for next summer.