A mad rush of water poured over the banks of the Little River near the Olde Sawmill mini golf course Sunday morning.
It wiped out the course's parking lot, shifted a detached storage shed/clubhouse off its foundation and ultimately drowned the business season for owner Al Turcott and his family.
"The course is closed for the year and will probably be opening late next year," said Al Turcott.
The story is similar all up and down Oxford's main commercial corridor, Route 67: business owners - who have been already been fighting an uphill battle against a tough economic climate in recent years - are now trying to dig out of Irene's mess.
The mini golf course is joined by the following companies (that we've confirmed) hoping and waiting for power: Fritz's Diner, the Mobile and the Global gas stations, Brookside Inn, Dunkin' Donuts, most of the stores and businesses in Great Hill Center plaza and Pleasant Valley Professional Plaza, Nardelli's Grinder Shoppe and most of the stores in the Tommy K's Plaza. (Please let us know in comments which companies are open and closed.)
Oxford Paint and Hardware lost power but was open Monday morning in case residents needed supplies. The owners planned to close in the early afternoon.
"It depends on what people need; we'll stay open if people need us to," said John Quoka, one of the owners.
The Brookside Inn cannot open without electricity and water per health codes, said owner Gary Morgatto. The same goes for other restaurants.
The historic restaurant got about a foot of water in the basement, which was gone as of late Monday morning, and the restaurant is running on a generator. He expected the carpet to be cleaned this afternoon, but cannot do anything until Connecticut Light & Power crews get power restored.
Morgatto, whose family has owned the since 1954, said this has caused as much damage as any storm since the flood of 1955.
"This is one of the worst storms in a long time, but we're better off than a lot of people," he said.
Oxford Fire Chief Scott Pelletier, who is also the fire marshal and Oxford's emergency management director, said most of the Route 67 problem was caused by a downed power line in Seymour. He said it should be at least a few days before power is restored; CL&P told him that its crews aren't touching lines until all of the roads are cleared of trees and debris.
Pelletier said he was "absolutely frustrated" with what he called a "lack of response" from CL&P.
"I understand that yesterday was a difficult situation and you can't have people up in buckets," he said. "But there were things that could be done to help the power situation on the ground, and they didn't have people out doing those things."
He noted that a power line fell on Great Hill Road around 2 p.m. Sunday, causing a fire that ripped through the ground and hit a gas line that burned for a while. People were evacuated from their homes nearby as a precaution, but nobody was injured. He said CL&P did not respond in a timely fashion, while CL&P says it is working around the clock to deal with the difficult situation, has released about its response.
Pelletier asked that residents be patient and understand that there is nothing local officials can do as the issue is now in the hands of utility crews.
Other notes about the storm:
- Oxford Interim Superintendent of Schools James Connelly said the school administrators are doing their best to get the payroll out by Wednesday, the first day of school; it's difficult without power or Internet access, he said.
- Connelly is also discussing whether to open schools on Wednesday with town officials and emergency crews.
- Fire Chief Scott Pelletier said the emergency operations center has been shut down because nobody showed up for 12 hours yesterday (a few came to take showers at 8 p.m.) but he is trying to contact Red Cross officials to see if they can open back up to let people take showers.
- Oxford Patch will bring you updates on all of these stories throughout the day.)