EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2012

'It could have been a lot worse'

Cleanup remains, but city escapes brunt of Sandy

By Mike LaBella mlabella@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — Now the cleanup remains — and restoring power to homes in some rural neighborhoods of the city.

Mayor James Fiorentini said Haverhill fared better than expected and managed to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, but there is still work to be done.

City workers and residents face cleaning up trees and limbs that were dropped to the ground by the storm’s powerful wind. Residents can drop off tree branches at the Highway Department yard on Primrose Street this week without having to pay a disposal fee. The yard will be open today through Friday from 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Leaves will not be accepted. The city will hold its annual leave collection day on Dec. 1.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, Highway Department workers Ray Bradshaw and Christopher Rau were removing broken limbs from a tree on Ginty Boulevard after making eight earlier stops. They were just beginning a long day, while several other city crews were doing the same thing.

”It could have been a lot worse,” Bradshaw said.

Some homes were still without lower as of late yesterday, as National Grid crews worked to restore it.

About 5,700 National Grid customers lost power during Monday’s storm, but by 7 p.m. yesterday that number was down to about 2,801 and dropping, the mayor said.

Public Works Director Michael Stankovich said the first calls for tree damage came in around 8 a.m. on Monday and the calls increased as the wind picked up during the early part of the afternoon. Police logged a total of 40 calls for downed trees and limbs and 20 calls for downed power lines between Monday morning and midnight.

”Our crews worked throughout the night responding to trees down and literally hundreds of limbs and branches,” Stankovich said.

Highway and Parks Department crews worked throughout the night and all day yesterday until about 10 p.m. Stankovich said work crews will resume clean-up operations this morning.

As of yesterday afternoon, the city was waiting to remove a tree at the intersection of Marsh and North avenues that was entangled in power lines, as well as a tree that toppled and knocked over a utility pole on Kenoza Avenue opposite the intersection of Concord Street. Stankovich said he was waiting for National Grid to cut the power to those lines before the trees could be removed. Tree branches that fell on power lines on Whittier Road and Corliss Hill Road were removed by city workers, although residents in that area were still without power as of yesterday afternoon.

Stankovich said the city hired the Mayer Tree Service company to help remove fallen trees.

City workers also dealt with flooded areas.

”Our readings show about 1.5 inches of rain, which resulted in minimal street flooding, which as mostly caused by plugged catch basins,” Stankovich said.

Fiorentini said most power failures were in the outlying areas of the city, including Ayers Village at the western end of town, North Broadway and a stretch of Lake Street as well as the Pilgrim Road area off Broadway near Lafayette Square, and the Smiley School area. At the eastern end of the city, residents in Rocks Village and East Broadway lost power, as did sections of Bradford, including a portion of Ward Hill.

Shoppers arriving at Market Basket at RiversEdge Plaza yesterday morning were greeted by a store employee who told them that because of a power outage that affected businesses in the plaza, they could shop for dry goods, but not perishable items such as eggs, fresh meats and milk. As of 4 p.m. yesterday the plaza was still without power.

”I guess there’s nothing you can do about,” said Nadine Bradley, who was hoping to do her weekly grocery shopping but decided to return at another time. “I was surprised to find they don’t have power. I live nearby and I didn’t lose my power.”

Barry Wilson of Bradford walked out of the Market Basket with the cat litter he needed.

”To be out of power after a hurricane is no surprise,” Wilson said. “Overall I don’t think we have it that bad.”

Fiorentini said National Grid sent crews to Haverhill and that he was being informed of their progress.

”Our priority now is working with National Grid to make sure service is restored,” Fiorentini said. “I’ve had better response than during the ice storm of two years ago. Now when we call there is someone who can provide us with information.”

School was cancelled Monday, but was in session yesterday.

Fiorentini said that in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, crews from National Grid worked all last weekend trimming trees close to power lines while city work crews cleared storm drains in anticipation of flooding.

”I think we were pretty fortunate,” Fiorentini said. “School was out for just one day and City Hall didn’t close at all.”

Hurricane Sandy's hit on Haverhill 1.5 inches of rain 5,700 National Grid customers lost power 40 downed trees 20 downed power lines