Friday, February 26, 2010

The Storm

The rain came in torrents yesterday afternoon and the wind blew from the east. It was so nasty that I actually drove right up in front of the door at Stop & Shop when I picked up 'A' from work so that she wouldn't get soaked. For once the weather forecasters were correct unfortunately, and the wind speed continued an upward trend well in to the night. I snuggled under the covers watching the Olympics and cringing every time the roar of the wind drowned out the audio on the TV. My bed would shake and the wind in the window screening screeched. There were thumps and bangs. As I gave up trying to stay awake long enough to watch all the skating, and turned off the lights, the wind seemed to calm down. I wondered what our yard would look like come daylight.

After the wild winds of nightfall, I was totally surprised in the morning to see only a littering of small branches and twigs in the yard. Then I looked across the back road to my neighbor's and saw that their moderately large pine tree had fallen atop his pick up truck and her nearly new sedan. A big mess for them with damage to both vehicles. Further down the street a small apple tree had toppled near another neighbor's shed. After breakfast, and the realization that our cable TV wasn't working, I headed for my package shippers. I was hoping that I had missed yesterdays pick up and I could slip a receipt inside a box of keys that I had left there for shipping. As I traveled out Main Street there were several trees fallen across driveways and in yards. There was the top only of a large pine tree hanging upright amid the power lines. As I neared my destination there was a lot more debris to avoid. Huge sections of wooden fencing from a condo complex were strewn across the road and nearby a row of 25 foot tall arborvitae - ish trees were a tangled mess, some of them had taken down power lines and lay across a driveway. Traffic was backed up as far as I could see and I wondered why. I arrived at the shippers to discover that the entire shopping area was without power and realized that the traffic back up was probably due to the traffic lights not functioning a half mile ahead . ( I found out later that there had also been an accident involving an 18 wheeler at the lights five minutes prior to my travels) My aging hippy shipping clerk opened the door when he saw me pull up and I told him what I needed to do and was let in the store. Unfortunately the box had already been picked up the previous day. While I was there chatting, the owner of the shop showed up. With no power, he decided not to open and 'my' hippy asked me for a lift home.

The drive back was uneventful. I noticed that two overly large, skinny, and top heavy pines in a Main Street front yard had survived the wind storm. By a couple hours later, one of those trees had toppled, miraculously missing a house, and totally blocking the drive and entrance to the house!

I spent the majority of the day either picking up our little bits of tree debris or working on keys in the shop. We drove to Ace Hardware to pick up a few things and found out that power was out all along Railroad Avenue...and at Ace! They were running a little generator to power some emergency lights and one cash register. We were escorted by a flashlight toting clerk to find the items we needed. My mom went out to grocery shop and when she got home commented that a utility pole near Stop & Shop was leaning very precariously. When I drove 'A' to work for 3 p.m. I took a look. It has at least a 33° list and a few of the lines are resting against a sign post further down the street.

After finishing work, my mom and I had an early dinner and then went in to town to check on a friend's house that we are babysitting for 6 weeks. All was fine there including the cable TV so we stayed and watched the news. Things are a mess around here! About 8,000 on the island of about 30,000 are still without electricity. Some roads are still impassable because of downed wires and trees. Several trees along Thatcher Road fell and took out 3 utility poles. The road along Pebble Beach was washed out (always does in a storm!) and even the road at Back Beach was closed. Two motels along Gloucester's back shore lost their roofs. The roof from the motel section of the Ocean View Inn is totally gone...all of it, not just the shingles. During the worst of the storm last night, a huge fire raged at Hampton Beach, NH., destroying an entire block including hotels, apartments, and the arcade. It's hard to get a fire controlled during winds of over 70 mph. There has been much beach erosion all along the eastern coast of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Tonight as I drove to Stop & Shop to pick up 'A', I noticed that the entire 4 mile route was in darkness. I had a hard time finding my turn at Barn Lane without the lights of the Shaw's shopping center to illuminate the corner. The leaning utility pole is still there, still with it's threatening angle. A half dozen power company trucks were congregated with floodlights shining around one intersection along my route. The pine tree top is still hanging, entangled in the power lines not far from our street. Our neighbor has cut the fallen tree off of his truck and car and just an enormous section of trunk along with it's unearthed root ball remains.

We still have no TV, which is an annoyance. I had wanted to watch Apolo Ohno's final speed skating race. But, we do have power and the light and warmth that it brings. We had no damage to our property and no major clean-up. We were fortunate.

An update: The TV is back on and I heard that Apolo was disqualified in his last individual race. Relay still to go. Also, the Sandy Bay Yacht Club (Rockport) recorded winds, last night, of between 70 and 80 mph with one gust at 87 mph. The photo at the top of this post is credited to the GDT staff photographer.


elizabeth down the street said...

I'm amazed that you had no power... We were without for about 24 hours... Five corners to Dominos, no power... Pigeon cove, no power... YOU had power? I think the power grid around here is like the electrical systems in all these old houses (like ours) -- a complete mish-mosh that makes no sense!

deb said...

Bizarre, isn't it, and with all those utility trucks and their flashing lights parked just down the street!

We head on errands to Ipswich, today. Might be an interesting drive.