Carpenter’s grandchildren still own the property that sits underneath the privately owned cottages. Plans to move the first rows of cottages back from the ocean have been in the works for a few years.
‘‘It’s only in the last 20, 25 years that the beach started shrinking and now it’s really picked up the pace,’’ said Nancy Thoresen, Carpenter’s granddaughter.
Some of what Sandy took away may return on its own. Misquamicut beach has already recovered some of the sand that was washed out to sea and officials hope more will return before the tourists arrive in the spring. Otherwise, disfigured beaches could mean a bad year for businesses already struggling in a down economy.
‘‘It is imperative to the economy — not just here in Westerly but to the entire state — that Misquamicut Beach make a full recovery,’’ said Lisa Konicki, president of the Westerly Chamber of Commerce. ‘‘People want to see their beach.’’