Irene – August 28, 2011

We weathered the storm beautifully; but the ramifications are not insignificant! The piece I had written for this space had originally – before Irene‘s visit – been about prolonging what has been a fast and successful summer season. I intended to declare “two more months of summer” (having seen my shadow on the deck of the L.A. Dunton) in order to prolong this sweet season, as it has passed far too quickly, and we would by consequence enjoy two more months of robust visitation. But instead, Irene and her regional impact changed all that.

First the good news: Our talented staff and volunteers flawlessly executed our detailed emergency response plan resulting in little to no impact from Irene on our collections, vessels, and buildings. We closed on Saturday to prepare, rode out the storm on Sunday, and put everything back together on Monday, opening (without power) on Tuesday on a spectacular summer day. Outstanding!

Now the bad news: Our closing for three days – over a weekend during peak season – is not good for the bottom line. Further, we re-opened without power meaning that food service was mostly down (except for a makeshift grilling station), as was the Treworgy Planetarium and other special offerings. The salt in the wound was the Mystic Drawbridge was not operational (again, no power) until Wednesday. Not only did that trap 18 visiting vessels including UConn’s two research vessels and some local fishing boats, but other vessels preparing to come up to the Museum had to be turned away prior to one of our biggest weekends of the year.

How ironic. We avoid physical damage to the Museum’s assets (thankfully!) only to have business severely compromised due to loss of power to the region. We are grateful for the timely assistance from state and local officials who helped make the return of power to the greater Mystic area and the operation of the drawbridge a priority. Now we can only hope power will be restored to the entire region and that we can indeed prolong these beautiful days of summer well beyond Labor Day and the opening of school. We have a most busy fall planned, and hopefully the budget can recover from these lost visitor days.

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