A pocket of Main Street near Stepney Green has been blacked out since Monday night’s hurricane, but late Friday morning the traffic lights at the corner of Route 59 lit up. A trickling of customers soon followed. A woman walked out of People’s United Bank after making a transaction, another entered Stepney Wine & Liquor across the street, and cars lined up at the pumps of the Exxon station as the area slowly came back to life.
Lights directed traffic at the intersection of routes 25 and 59 and the temporary stop signs had already been removed by early afternoon, but the new light by Green Street was still out. Lines crews' white trucks were stationed on the edge of the green and on Stepney Road.
Lorraine McGowan rung up a sale inside Country Hearts gift shop at Clock Tower Square. On another end of the counter, store employee Sue Goodridge tied a red bow for a gift.
"We just got power this afternoon," said McGowan, who owns the shop.
She first learned the power was back when Goodridge's husband Steve drove by, noticed the traffic lights on Main Street were on, and called his wife.
"Sue and I hurried down here," McGowan said with a smile. "We've had some customers. I wasn't sure we would."
Janet Welkie of Trumbull was one of Country Hearts' first shoppers after the blackout.
"I love Country Hearts," Welkie said. "I kept driving by every day and looking at the sign to see if they were open."
The store, which was not even open on Monday, will resume regular store hours on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"We're going to have hot coffee and hot tea and a breakfast casserole Saturday morning for people who still don't have power," McGowan said.
At Stepney Wine & Liquor, 450 Main Street, store manager Roy Hemond said he and his staff waited for the power to come back during the daylight hours Tuesday to Thursday, before getting it back on Friday — when the store immediately opened its doors.
"It feels a lot better now," Hemond said of getting the power back. "It took a little while, but it's understandable. They're busy, but CL&P was good to me. They couldn't give me a time frame, but when I talked to linesmen on the street, they were helpful."
Stepney Wine & Liquor will have its first full day on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Though retail could open right away, food businesses couldn't hit the ground running. The Trumbull-Monroe Health District must perform inspections to make sure any food that spoiled isn't cooked or sold. Then fresh food must be trucked in.
At Stepney Crossing, Jennifer Olimpieri had to turn a woman and her two children away from the entrance of Last Drop Coffee Shop & Cafe. "I'm sorry," Olimpieri said. "We have to restock. Can you come back tomorrow? I'm sorry."
For the third time in the past two years, Olimpieri said she and her husband Carl have had to throw out thousands of dollars worth of food that had spoiled.
"We're restocking milk, cream, lunch meat and cheeses — you name it," she said. "We have to restock everything."
Olimpieri said it was frustrating to see there was power from Panino's Restaurant to Duchess and from Stepney Hardware to Newtown, but no power in the pocket in between where her shop is.
"It was upsetting that we couldn't get power here, because people could have come here for coffee and wifi," Olimpieri said. "They could have eaten and had heat."
All three stores told Patch how hard it is to lose a week's worth of business, but after seeing news reports on TV of flooding and devastation to buildings in other parts of the Northeast, they feel fortunate.
"We're just thankful that our building is standing, we're in good health and our families are safe," Olimpieri said. "We just want to be able to provide some relief to the community. We miss everybody."
McGowan said, "I'm so happy to be back. I want to start refocusing on getting this store ready for the holidays. And we miss seeing everybody. It will be good to see them and find out how everybody's doing. We're just happy we have lights. We're back! We're back!"