EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 31, 2012

Cleanup, restoration efforts in high gear across Merrimack Valley

ANDOVER — The high-pitched scream of chainsaws could be heard throughout the Merrimack Valley yesterday, as tree crews toiled alongside National Grid workers and public works personnel to free wires and restore electricity to thousands of customers.

By many accounts, the response to Hurricane Sandy, renamed Superstorm Sandy, was a marked improvement over last year’s much-maligned answer to Hurricane Irene and the late-October snowstorm, both of which left many people in the dark for days.

“They are much speedier this year,” said Marc Donvito of 46 Linwood St., as he watched electrical contractors tack powerlines onto two, new utility poles on Haverhill Street/Route 133 in Andover. A rotted oak tree in front of 87 Haverhill St. fell, tearing down two utility poles as it thundered to the ground around 4:15 p.m. Monday. “You’ve got to give them credit for that.”

Linwood Street, a block or so away, was affected by the outage created by the big oak’s collapse on Haverhill Street, as were numerous other streets in the area. Yesterday statewide, 300,000 people were without power, with about 3,300 of them in Andover.

“The ice storm was much worse,” he said, referring to the December 2008 storm that cut power to millions of people and plunged New York and New England into a cold dark week or two without power.

Indeed, many in Massachusetts, including Gov. Deval Patrick, said Massachusetts lucked out.

“We feel very fortunate there have been no reports of serious injury, no reports of serious infrastructure damage,” Patrick said in a news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham yesterday. He said there are no places in Massachusetts with “devastation,” and said he is cognizant that the state’s outcome might have been different if Sandy had not veered off to pound the coasts of New York and New Jersey. At least 18 people were killed in the storm in seven states, according to the Associated Press.

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