CT Women

Coming Home after Hurricane Irene

The place where our family played, worked, and fell in love for nearly 100 years was destroyed. So it's not "just a house."

For New York City, Hurricane Irene was largely a non-event, an unnecessary nuisance with unprecedented action. For me and my extended family, Hurricane Irene was a life-changing storm. Sure, there were power outages and phone lines down and flooding and roads closed. But the impact I'm writing about was to two old summer cottages that have been in our family for nearly 100 years.

My great-grandfather bought Shohola, a rambling cottage on the point of a small beach at the end of a dirt road in Madison, Connecticut, in 1922. He had four children, three of whom are still living, and one of whom is my maternal grandmother, Frances. We call her Nana. Nana was 1 when she first spent her summer in Shohola.

Soon enough, my great-grandfather decided to build a smaller cottage on the property for his wife's sister and her family to use. And then a family bought the house next door, and the kids spent their summers together—swimming out to a raft and burning in the sunlight and scraping their ...

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