EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 31, 2012

Trees crush houses in Windham

Falling trees cause some serious damage

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — WINDHAM – Wind-tossed trees crashed around Fox Street during Sandy, narrowly missing some families.

“Probably around 3 o’clock, it got windy. We came out to the back sliding door here and were looking,” Brad Howse said. “All of a sudden, we heard a crack and we ran to the front of the house and the tree dropped and went right through the roof.”

“It is destroyed,” Howse’s friend, Lisa Zappala said, observing the damage.

They were having to look for new housing, at least temporarily. Howse was awaiting word from town officials about whether the home could be used.

He didn’t have plans.

“I don’t have any yet,” Howse said.

But he was thankful no one was injured.

“Everybody is OK,” he said. “Nobody got hurt.”

Beth Venuti lived across the street and was watching TV with the kids in the living room early Monday night.

“I heard a big crash, bang and then felt the house move,” she said. “We sat there stunned for a minute, got up, turned on the outside light and saw the tree across the deck.”

But, she, too, was grateful no one was hurt.

“Everyone is A-OK,” Venuti said. “We’ve got some frazzled nerves. Other than that, we’re good.”

Her son, Anthony, had a moment to remember.

“All I heard was there was a big crack, then a giant boom and then the house shook,” the youngster said. “Then I looked outside because everyone was, like, moving the flashlights around. Then I saw some branches on our front porch.”

Yesterday, he led a tour of the damage.

“This is the tree that fell down,” Anthony said, pointing to the sawed-up pieces around the yard. “It just took down most of our porch.”

Public Service of New Hampshire called Windham one of the worst hit towns in the state, predicting it could take up to five days to restore power to some homes.

“Right now, we’ve got numerous neighborhoods that are still without power,” fire Chief Tom McPherson said. “We have areas that have telephone poles, wires and trees still down.”

And until utility crews could make their way to them, nothing was going to move.

“We’re not touching those until the power company has come by and deemed those wires dead,” McPherson said. “At that point, we will try to get the road crews out there to clean them up.”

Windham Superintendent Henry LaBranche said schools there will be closed today since more than 90 percent of PSNH customers were still without power last night. LaBranche said he would decide tonight whether schools will reopen tomorrow.

Traffic for the most part was moving smoothly through town, but some neighborhoods had struggled yesterday.

“Mammoth Road by Waterhouse Country Store and Morrison Road were still closed,” while travel was restricted on Searles Road, McPherson said.

“Right now, we’re just in the recovery stage,” he said.

He had some advice for travelers.

“Just be cautious of your surroundings. Watch out when you’re driving. Take it slow,” he said. “There’s a lot of debris still out on the roads. The road crews are out there clearing them up. The public utilities are out there now trying to get power restored. So I just ask drivers to use extreme caution and watch their speed when they go through.”