The River Dog Hit Hard By Sandy

After cleaning up from damage incurred from Hurricane Irene last year, Super Storm Sandy caused 'extreme' damage to the food stand at the Birdseye Boat Ramp, says owner Deb Torreso.

So you say you want to live by the water?

By Deb Torreso

I often equate owning property on the water with that of a love-hate relationship.

The effects of a weather element can beat down your spirits, and then just when you think you have had enough; it sends you a beautiful bouquet of sunshine, and a bottle of sweet summer breezes.

You will almost always forgive its transgressions. Acquiescence will overthrow logic just so you can feel that loving warmth on your skin, and the wind tickling through your hair.

Yes, the sea's come-hither flirtation can dangerously lull you into an intoxicating euphoria. You must, however, be aware of its incredible power, one that has fooled and manipulated mankind since the beginning of time.

Herein lies the saga of The River Dog.

My brother Greg and I were in our third year serving customers at the boat ramp in Stratford. The first year was new and exciting, filled with great food, great times and great people; we couldn't wait for year two.

Year two started with more of the same; however Hurricane Irene would soon rear her ugly head, not unlike the snake-venom mane of Medusa, to savagely attack our waterfront.

I look back at our naivety as we "battened down the hatch," making certain our plants were brought in, and our perishables tucked away. Underestimating the power of such an event, we innocently went home thinking we would arrive the next day to find a "minor" clean-up.

Needless to say, it was catastrophic, not nearly as bad as the people who lost their homes and personal belongings -- or worse, but in a way where we shared the shock, and awe of this unexpected and violent affront. It was an eerie membership to a new club with which we would forever be connected.

Not seeing the damage actually occur, left many wondering how such a thing could happen. It was a melancholy time for "stories of the sea" to be recited repeatedly by eyewitnesses. One in particular would leave me breathless as I replayed it in my mind's eye.

A waterfront resident of the neighboring Tide Harbor condominiums, said it looked like a tsunami surging up over the water's edge, effortlessly sweeping the food stand up, and out onto the side of the riverbed. We spent weeks locating and moving each piece back onto dry land, and months putting most of it back together in time to reopen for the next season.

Looking back, it seemed as though we had been forced to pay some hidden dues, for the right to share this sacred land with Mother Nature and her aquatic warriors. Well, fortunately life would go on -- major tragedy averted. What could be the odds of anything like this ever happening again?

As we entered our third year, we felt as if we had learned our lessons and were now ready to move to the next level. All went well until Super Storm Sandy showed us all how vulnerable we still were, as we found ourselves reliving last year's nightmare -- just as naïve as the first time -- who could have predicted two major hurricanes in two years.

We certainly weren't accustomed to such things around here, but there it was.

I'm not proud to admit I never saw it coming, and this time the damage was extreme. As I stood by this broken wreck once again, I could feel the fight to overcome -- subside and the need to succumb -- take over.

Human nature is a funny thing, though; we often feel the need to renegotiate our decisions, especially the ones tainted with emotionality. Once our pain has eased and our spirits lifted, we may find our strength return to meet that power which has beat us down -- with ferocity the likes of which are - not to be underestimated.

Anne K. Mulligan November 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Very sad, but beautifully written.
Shannon Bruchal November 15, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Wonderfully written. We really hope to see the River Dog back in operation.
Donna Rae Henault Caporaso November 15, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Love to you and Greg and Deb. Hope you'll back : ) xo
barbara torreso hurley November 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Deb, you and Greg have done a wonderful job serving Stratford with not only delicious food but with "heart" and a beautiful "spirit". Love to you both...and your article is amazing...as I knew it would be...love sis!


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