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Letter: Saugatuck Island is grateful

Published 10:05 am, Wednesday, December 5, 2012
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For most Westporters, Sandy is a frustrating memory that is fading into the blur of holiday preparations. For Saugatuck Island residents, Sandy is still a daily aggravation in the form of reconstruction, clean-up and constant check writing.

But we also had some calm in the storm. Specifically, "civil servants" gave fresh meaning to their titles and defined what "first responders" means. They rarely get praise; most days they accept that complaints are part of their jobs. Here are kudos for a few of the many.

Bryan Thompson, public works coordinator, was on our island before, during and after the storm. He brought daily information about CL&P activities and town support. We don't know when he slept -- and still, he dealt with daily problems with humor and great energy. His constant flow of information and diligent coordination of issues was invaluable.

Sandy floated one section of our Island's bridge off its foundation, leaving us "stranded." Pete Ratkiewich, town engineer, was on the scene immediately working with us to organize a safe and fast fix. His analysis, engineering knowledge, and capable management of town issues was unbelievable; miraculously, he got our bridge back operating in just 17 days. His confident ability to streamline tasks and work with our great contractor, Gary Wetmore, got our bridge open quickly.

Steve Edwards, director of public works, quietly cleared hurdles for both Bryan and Pete. Steve could have chosen an interim fix for our bridge bulkhead but instead got a contractor on site immediately and did the repair right for the long term.

Steve Smith, our building official and fire-safety supervisor, was fantastic. Steve took a common sense approach to our movement of mountains of sand blocking our roads and provided insights to get power back on for dozens of residents whose meters were locked by CL&P.

Last, Andrew Kingsbury, fire chief has provided us with tremendous help. From contacting FEMA to collecting flood information, Andy has also served as liaison with many homeowners searching for grant answers. His pragmatic solutions for cutting through red tape will help enable our residents to rebuild.

We know that these guys were busy with other suffering areas including downtown Westport. They also had no power at home, and a hot shower wasn't likely soon, but all gave us their cell phone numbers! They called regularly, passing on information and updates. They continue to guide us with FEMA and to help us plan for future storms.

We know that they all work with other team members who also supported us. Thank you all! We would not have had a clue how to move forward without the incredible service of these town employees. We cannot thank you enough for helping us. You have earned more than our thanks; we are grateful that Westport has such capable and sensible employees. You make "civil servant" mean what it should -- someone valuable, important and dedicated.

Carole Reichhelm

Saugatuck Island

Board of Directors

Westport