Wickford Ready for Labor Day Weekend

Irene did little to dampen Wickford's spirits for Labor Day weekend.

As predictions rolled in last week, Wickford merchants feared Tropical Storm Irene would be "the big one." Shop owners hypothesized a scenario of flood-damaged stores, broken windows and thousands of dollars of damaged goods that would have put them out of business.

But by Thursday, shoppers were walking the streets of the historic village with bags in hand, street parking was scarce and families were feeding the ducks over the Wickford Bridge.

"Things really could have been so much worse," said Lori Lyons of . "It was a good wake-up call."

On Saturday afternoon, much of Wickford was boarded up as store owners scurried to prepare their stores for the expected high winds and storm surge. Storeowners wrote messages to the tropical storm on the boarded up windows, reading "Good night, Irene" and "bite me, Irene."

Tim Sharp of along with a handful of employees, hurriedly cleared off the deck overlooking the cove in anticipation of the storm surge. The storm surge also concerned Lyons, who lives in the area and came down to the village during the storm to see water rising below Wickford Bridge.

"It was my biggest concern at the time," said Sharp. "The surge was no problem. My biggest concern ended up being electricity."

It wasn't until Tuesday and Wednesday that power was restored to Wickford Village. By that time, Sharp's refrigerated food inventory was no good.

"We had to throw everything out and start from scratch," said Sharp, who reopened Beach Rose on Thursday.

The nearly unprecedented power outage, which left upwards of 10,000 North Kingstown customers without power, forced the historic village to come back online much later than other parts of town.

"I can't remember the last time I was closed for four days in my 22 years here," said Lyons.

Despite the short-term lull in business, courtesy of Irene, the village is ready to host shoppers and day trippers for Labor Day weekend, the final "push" as summer comes to a close.

"We're 100 percent up and running," said Sharp.



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