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July 4, 2014

Wicked winds hit Merrimack Valley, thousands lose power

Dealership roof torn off, thousands lose power

The roof of a used car dealership was ripped off, dozens of trees were uprooted and thousands of homes and businesses lost power yesterday afternoon as a fast-moving line of thunderstorms struck the Merrimack Valley.

In Methuen, high winds tore the roof from Hughes Motors on Riverside Drive, at around 5:15 p.m. Five utility poles on the street were also knocked over, according to police Lt. Michael Wnek, as well as trees and limbs, “all the way to the Lawrence border and beyond.”

There were no reports of injuries as of 9:30 p.m. Utility and Methuen Public Works crews were hard at work removing fallen trees and repairing damaged power lines, he said.

“Everybody was hustling,” he said.

In Andover, a huge pine tree, at least a foot in diameter, came crashing down across the pool at Homewood Suites by Hilton, 4 Riverside Drive, at around 5:30 p.m.

“We heard a loud crack of thunder,” general manager Stacie Beckman said. Nobody was in the pool when the pine, which was broken off a few feet above the ground, fell, she said.

“I thought they were joking,” she said, when guests told her a tree had fallen across the pool. She said it will probably take three to five business days to remove the tree and repair the steel fence that was also damaged.

Fallen trees were a common sight throughout the Merrimack Valley. Only a few hundred feet from Homewood Suites, an oak near the parking lot of Charm Sciences, 1 Riverside Drive, was uprooted.

The chance of rain today is 90 percent, according to the National Weather Service, with thunderstorms likely to produce heavy rainfall.

In North Andover, trees fell on Main Street, in the downtown, as well as on Sutton and Osgood streets, at around 6 p.m.

Crews from National Grid were repairing power lines last night.

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