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Residents on shoreline prepare for possibility of Hurricane Joaquin hitting

MILFORD –Towns across the shoreline are preparing as Hurricane Joaquin makes its way north, but also as we approach the height of hurricane season. In New Londo...

MILFORD –Towns across the shoreline are preparing as Hurricane Joaquin makes its way north, but also as we approach the height of hurricane season.

In New London, emergency crews are preparing for by checking generators, making sure vehicles have enough fuel and cleaning out storm drains.

Officials are also providing New London residents with sand bags, ordering hundreds more from the state in preparation for Joaquin. However, they don't think the intense preparations will be necessary, and say they are just a precaution,

"I don't think we have anything to worry about. I think the public should feel confident in us in our responding to these emergencies because we're used to it," said Tom Curcio, New London emergency management director.

Meanwhile, others are just thinking "not again."

Hillside Avenue is one of many streets in this seaside community that is keeping a close eye on the possibly impending storm.

“I watch the National Hurricane Center every day and I'm pretty confident that this house will do very well,” said Ron Anderson, who was forced to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy struck three years ago.

Anderson’s previous home had been in his wife’s family since 1930, and was built in 1899, but it was all lost when the waves hit.

“The waves came right through the house on the ground floor,” said Anderson, whose new home is 18 feet higher.

Still, the state’s former deputy commissioner for emergency management says just because many coastal homes are built higher off the ground doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evacuate.

“If you're right at the FEMA elevation, flood elevation, along the shoreline here, that means you're exactly at the height the water reached during the ‘38 hurricane,” said Wayne Sandford, emergency management program adviser at the University of New Haven.

“In Irene, we lost 27 homes and in Sandy it was another 12 or 13 that fell in,” recalled Sandford of East Hartford, where he was previously the fire chief. He also served as deputy commissioner of emergency management and homeland security for the state of Connecticut from 2005 through 2010.

Milford Mayor Ben Blake said his community features 17.5 miles of coastline, more than any other municipality in the state. That, of course, makes it a larger potential target.

“We had about 2,000 homes impacted just from Superstorm Sandy and we have about 4,000 properties in the flood zone,” said Blake.

Past storms provide many lessons to learn from, including the need to make Milford’s coastline more resilient through “either flood and erosion projects or repairing seawalls and revetments or doing a sand re-nourishment projects,” said Blake.

A $3 million grant from the state will also help the city build a micro-grid to keep key buildings in the city powered up if a storm knocks electricity out.

In nearby East Haven, Goody's Hardware on Main Street is preparing way ahead of time.

“We have a big order going in today that’s going to be shipped here on Friday, if not tomorrow,” said David Katz, the co-owner of the store, which has all the storm necessities in stock including generators, flash lights and sump pumps.

Despite the need to rebuild, Anderson’s sense of humor was never washed away.

“I joke with our neighbors across the street that they have waterfront property practically twice a year.”

And perhaps one more time early next week.