(WTNH) - When Irene hit Connecticut August 27, 2011, it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, but that didn't stop it from making its mark on the landscape of the state.
"As far as strength goes, (Irene) will go down as one of the biggest storms to ever make a direct hit to Connecticut," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin said.
The storm ravished the shoreline, sweeping away homes and destroying businesses. Monster waves took its toll on everything in sight. First-hand accounts from Report It viewers showed the storm's true magnitude.
"It corresponded with the times of high tide," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve Villanueva said. "Plus, we had a moon phase which raised the water level even more, which is one of the reasons we saw all the flooding along the shoreline.
"This storm was amazing because it wasn't a hurricane," MacLaughlin said. "It was a tropical storm and yet the damage it did was incredible."
The damage that did follow was overwhelming. For days thousands of people went without running water. And power throughout the state took weeks to restore.
"The biggest surprise for me was how long the power was out for a lot of people," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Erica Grow said. "It seems to me that if we had better areas where the trees were cut down or trimmed to avoid those trees falling on those power lines, we would've avoided some of those really long term power outages."
That's the debate bubbling to the surface right now. Power outages from the October snow surpassed Irene by the thousands, much of it due to fully-leaved trees falling on power lines and roads. On top of that was the added urgency of colder temperatures.
It's making life much more dangerous as carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning takes center stage. Deaths from CO poisoning are climbing as people use alternate heating devices to make due.
"I can't understand it," Garth Carrington of Bloomfield told News 8. "Carbon monoxide is a killer. I don't know why folks can't understand it."
People were feeling powerless as power was slowly restored.
"I've done Hurricane Gloria and then the last tropical storm, and this is the worst by far," said Brian LaVoie from the West Hartford Department of Public Works.
The folks impacted by Irene can relate. They felt the crunch as well, sharing their frustrations with us at every turn.
Connecticut isn't immune to storms like this, although sometimes it's easy to forget how vulnerable we can be.
"They don't quite understand how volatile the weather and the conditions can be on Long Island Sound," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons said.
"People assume the sound is calm, and most of the time it is," Steve Villanueva said, "except when you get these tropical storms that really churn up the winds, churn up the water. and when people become complacent about what water can do to structures and to property and life -- and it comes up and bites you.
And as people struggle to get back on their feet the hope is they'll get by without ever having to see a storm like Irene again.
"I hope it's once in at least 50 years so I'll be dead and gone," Duarte Cabral of Milford said.
And someday did happen, in the form of our autumn nor'easter.
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