By Mike LaBella firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — HAVERHILL — They arrived in cars loaded with bags of sticks and brush, and in pickup trucks with beds piled high with tree branches.
The city’s Highway Department yard on Primrose Street was a popular place yesterday for residents who were dropping off tree debris from their yards in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. City officials said they expect the scene to be the same through the rest of the week.
Mayor James Fiorentini on Tuesday said he wanted residents to help clean up after the storm and, as an incentive, he offered residents the opportunity to dispose of their branches and brush without having to buy a permit. The yard is open today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“I really don’t mind paying a fee, but this is nice,” Chip DeSimone of Bradford said about the free dumping.
DeSimone filled his pickup truck with broken branches that littered his yard in the Wood School area, and was happy to have a place to dispose of it all.
“What are people supposed to do if they don’t have a place to dump it?” he said.
DeSimone, who taught diesel repair at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and is now retired, said his neighborhood fared pretty well during Monday’s storm.
“Other than a big tree that fell in the field behind the school, it wasn’t bad,” he said. “We didn’t lose power, so I guess we were lucky.”
Some residents weren’t so lucky, even after the storm. Residents of the Lakeview Avenue area near Whittier Middle School went without power yesterday due to a malfunctioning electrical transformer in their neighborhood.
Part of a large tree in Brian Woelfel’s front yard at 133 North Ave. crashed onto power lines and snapped a utility pole Monday about 4:15 p.m. When the pole fell, its electrical transformer landed in the street and exploded, Woelfel said.
“The whole house shook,” he said. “It ripped the electrical service right off our house and three other houses. It was really incredible.”
Lakeview Avenue resident Mary Pappas said she lost power about 4:15 p.m. on Monday, the same time the power lines were knocked down in front of Woelfe’s North Avenue home.
“It’s frightening,” Pappas said yesterday. “I’ve been through a lot of storms but I’ve never seen anything like this. I can’t remember the last time we lost power for this long. I hope I don’t have to go through another dark night.”
Yesterday morning, workers with Clean Harbors, a hazardous waste cleanup company, removed fluids that leaked out of the downed transformer onto the street so repairs could begin. Mayor James Fiorentini said Verizon workers were on the scene at 1 p.m. and were replacing the broken utility pole so that National Grid could begin repairing the power lines.
Fiorentini said he received many calls yesterday from residents in the Lakeview, Brockton and Fairmont avenues area about their power still being out. Fiorentini said the outage in that area was caused by the downed power lines on North Avenue. The mayor said he also received several calls from residents on Fernwood Avenue in Bradford whose power was still out.
“Folks are getting impatient and I understand that they have food that is spoiling and some have medical problems,” Fiorentini said yesterday. “National Grid told me told me they have nine crews working in Haverhill today and that everyone will have their power back by midnight on Friday, although they hope most will have their power back before then.”
As of 3:30 p.m. yesterday, in Haverhill 1,004 National Grid customers were still without power.
North Broadway residents George and Marilyn Allison made several trips to the highway yard yesterday to dispose of tree branches that littered their property.
“By having the yard open this week, it gives us time more time to clean up our property and to get down here,” Marilyn Allison said.
Public Works Department laborer Peter Cook helped residents unload their vehicles and said he expects it will be very busy on Saturday.
“People still have to go to work, so I suspect Saturday will be a big cleanup day,” Cook said.
Traffic was flowing smoothly on Kenoza Avenue yesterday where it passes by Concord Street. On Monday, a tree that toppled and knocked over a utility pole resulted in closure of the northbound lane. Repairs were made and the road was open yesterday.
When, where to dump branches Highway Department yard, 500 Primrose St. Free dumping this week for residents. Hours: Today and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Leaves can be dropped off, but a $7 day pass or $35 annual pass is required. Residents 65 or older pay $25. Annual curbside leaf collection outside homes is Dec. 1.