Tropical Storm Irene still impacting East Haven five years later

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EAST HAVEN - Sunday marks the five-year anniversary of when Tropical Storm Irene struck Connecticut, devastating the still recovering Cosey Beach community in East Haven.

Still, next door neighbors on Cosey Beach Avenue, whose homes sustained serious damage,  say they won't leave the waterfront.

"One of the things I like best about my house is I have a fabulous bedroom, with a view of the water," said Gretchen Schrader, who has lived  in her Cosey Beach home since 2000.

"You come out every morning and it's a beautiful view, always different," said John D'Addio, who moved next door to Schrader, with his wife, Regina, in 2003.

On August 28, 2011, when Irene came barging in, will always have different meaning for these neighbors.

Tropical Storm Irene forced Schrader out of her home "over two years and it was extremely expensive," she said.

On that same day, five years ago, the D'Addios celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Ironically, on their wedding day, August 28, 1971, they had a wedding crasher: Tropical Storm Doria.

"She (Regina) was almost ready to walk to church because a lot of the power was out," John D'Addio said, with a smile.

Schrader lost a lot more than power on that date five years ago. Her entire first floor, furniture and all, was wiped out, forcing her to jack up her house up some 17 feet to meet new federal standards. That was something the D'Addios had already done.

"We were kind of lucky because, just a couple of years before Irene, we raised the house," said John D'Addio. "We were one of the first people here to raise it."

They didn't completely escape, though. A concrete sea wall was toppled and both of their garages were damaged.

Living along the shore, these neighbors say they keep a closer eye on forecasts than most.

"I just love the area. It's very special," said Schrader, who grew up in Greenwich.

"It's part of living down here. You take the good with the bad," said John D'Addio.

Nearly a half dozen homes were demolished along Cosey Beach five years ago. However, at least for the D'Addios, August 28 will always be an anniversary they can toast.

In Connecticut, 2 people died, 132 homes were destroyed and 35 communities were declared disaster areas.