Surf from Hurricane Irene on Saybrook Point

Two thrill-seekers get pummeled by waves crashing over the causeway which connects Saybrook Point with Fenwick. (STEPHEN DUNN/Hartford Courant / August 27, 2011)

At least 25 homes in East Haven were destroyed, one person has died, others are missing and more than half the state is without power after Tropical Storm Irene tore through Connecticut Sunday.

East Haven mayor April Capone said that at least 25 homes in the Cosey Beach neighborhood were "a total loss" — swept out to sea, collapsed or missing entire sides.

"It's devastating," said Capone. "Fortunately, we have no loss of life, which is the most important thing."

Capone said that most residents left before the storm struck, but that several people had not heeded the mandatory evacuation and needed to be rescued. She said that residents would be allowed to return to the area tomorrow, adding, "but in some cases there's nothing there."

Gov.Dannel P. Malloysaid that three people were missing, two in East Haven and one in Bristol. East Haven police said they were not searching for any missing people, but state officials said that two residents of a heavily damaged home remain unaccounted for.

In Bristol, the national guard rescued one of two men whose canoe capsized in the flood-swollen Pequabuck River just after 3 p.m. While one man was able to swim to the river bank and wait for rescuers, police said witnesses never saw the second man, identified as Shane Seaver, 46, surface. The National Guard continues to search for Seaver.

"I heard the people yelling 'Help, help' — they were coming down the river," said Kathy Oates. "Then they banged their heads right into the end there, next thing they went under and my husband went running."

Malloy warned citizens against taking unnecessary chances in difficult weather.

"I hope and pray their lives are not lost," Malloy told reporters Sunday. "There is no reason to be on the water," in a canoe or kayak.

Following the storm, many towns along the Housatonic, Connecticut and Farmington Rivers worried about flooding. Farmington urged residents in several areas along Route 4 and New Britain Avenue, as well as Riverwood and Farmington Village to evacuate.

Trees, branches and power lines remain strewn across roads in every town in the state. Major highways are open and tractor-trailer bans have been lifted, but many local roads are impassible. About 2,000 residents are in shelters across the state.

At 11 p.m., 767,324 electric customers were without power, a number that was expected to climb through the night as wind gusts dislodged lose branches and wires. There is no timeframe for the restorations, which will affect school openings this week.

Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford was forced to evacuate all 43 patients to other area hopsitals after a generator failed during the power outage Sunday afternoon. Staff remained in the emergency, operating and obstetrics departments.

The number of outages is the highest in recent memory, and crews will likely take days to restore all power. With large numbers of downed trees, state and local officials will be working overtime in the coming days to restore the state to normalcy. CL&P said that it would have "several hundred crews," working throughout the night and ramp up services at 7 a.m. Monday when crews can "maximize daylight hours and be most productive."

The storm hit the shoreline in concert with a strong high tide, causing a surge that swamped roads and homes from Fairfield to New London.

Along Fairfield Beach Road in Fairfield, flood waters surrounded homes, with the waters of the sound rising a quarter mile from the shoreline. Fairfield Fire Chief Richard Felner said that four homes were severely damaged and that two or three would probably have to be torn down.

Rescuers searched the homes after receiving a report that someone was trapped inside, but found no one. The area was part of a mandatory evacuation Saturday, which was extended Sunday when high tides contributed to major flooding.

Sections of Fairfield Beach Road remained impassable, but tourists eager to see the damage flocked to the area. There is also significant flooding on Harbor Road and in the Ash Creek area, she said.

In Prospect, a woman died in a house fire caused by downed wires.