CT’s coastal communities watching and preparing

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EAST HAVEN --  While it remains unclear whether Connecticut will dodge all three active hurricanes, East Haven is among the coastal Connecticut communities not taking any chances.

On the job for nearly 6 months, East Haven's New Fire Chief, Matthew Marcarelli, who is also the town's Director of Emergency Management, might just be facing his first weather challenge.

"I am keenly aware of everything going on," he said.

Now In the heart of hurricane season, Chief Marcarelli's emergency management team checklist has included meeting with utility contractors "to make sure that we can we can ensure that there's business continuity, but that there is continuity in government," he said.

Of course, people who live on or near Cosey Beach know what they could be in for from past experience.

"It's rough down here," said resident Tania Tyrrell, who added she is very anxious. "I am on my way to get a little air mattress because I don't know where I'm going to land."

She's lived through Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy the following year.

"Watching houses float away into the sound. Literally float away. It was very devastating," said Tyrrell.

Many of the East Haven shoreline's homes were rebuilt to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards - with the lowest floor needing to be at least one story above sea level, according to Marcarelli.

"In the event that there is a storm surge, they should be protected, the Chief said. "Now, they haven't been tested yet. And we are hoping they don't have to be for a very long time."

Carla Stitz, who has lived along Cosey Beach for 6 years, pays attention to evacuation requests.

"We did have to evacuate for Irene and Sandy," Stitz said. "So, we just keep our ears open and make sure that we get out ahead of time."

The town has well marked evacuation route signage posted, but the fire chief acknowledges the town needs more signage.

The level of Cosey Beach Avenue has even been raised to help avoid the flooding, which, in the past, has made it hard for emergency vehicles to tend to residents.