A four-foot piece of wood sculpted into a stiff seat.
Throughout the brunt of Hurricane Sandy Monday, that was the object positioned at the edge of James Caporaso's driveway at 106 Washington Parkway in Lordship.
Shortly after midnight Monday, as the high tide and Sandy converged, the water crept up Washington Parkway, drawing within feet of Caporaso's front steps.
But then it stopped. Right at that odd block of wood.
"Last night was a little nerve-wracking," Caporaso said Tuesday outside his home, which did not sustain any flooding. "It was the biggest flood I've seen down here since I was a little kid."
Caporaso said he's been living in the Lordship section of Stratford for the last 40 years. He said Sandy has been one of the longest storms he's experienced. The Stratford man with the lucky totem also said that he considers himself fortunate compared to some of his neighbors.
Just next door at 96 Washington Parkway, water pushed in the garage door, causing four to six feet of flooding, Caporaso said. And further up the road, a tree toppled, knocking out power to the whole block, he added. Also, closer to the shore, the deck at Mare Bello unhinged from the restaurant and now "is gone," Caporaso said.
A former neighbor to the Mare Bello restaurant, John Kramer, now a Cromwell resident, was visiting Lordship Tuesday. He looked toward the shore at his former residence, now inundated and inaccessible without trudging through yards of water.
"I was tired of flooding," Kramer said of his reason for moving, before he added, "Now we just have to worry about trees."
Edna McClure was one of Caporaso's Washington Parkway neighbors who lost power during the storm when a tree fell on some wires. On Tuesday, she was in good enough spirits, walking her dog and saying the damage could have been worse.
"At least the road didn't get torn up like last year,” she said, referring to the damage Hurricane Irene caused to Beach Drive last August.
Caporaso agreed that Sandy could have taken a larger bite out of Stratford. He said the tidal surge Monday night turned out to be two or three feet lower than what was predicted, and that upgrades UI made over the summer, including adding new poles, raising wires and clearing out trees, lessened the damage.
"I think they did a wonderful job," Caporaso said of the utility's work. He also gave some credit to that land mass south of the Connecticut coastline. "Thank God for Long Island Sound. If it wasn't there, we'd be underwater."