GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 1, 2012

City sees few claims of storm damage

By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Five.

That’s the number of overall claims two local insurance companies had received about damage following Gloucester’s brush with hurricane/cyclone Sandy and its 80-mile-per-hour wind gusts Sunday and Monday.

And those claims, Bill Macchi at Mahoney Insurance said Wednesday, were small potatoes, documenting that the city dodged a meteorological bullet that wreaked havoc up and down the East Coast.

“I got two calls,” Macchi said, “(the city) got very lucky.”

The calls he had were for missing shingles and leaks around a chimney, minimal damage, he added. Across Cape Ann, residents — at least the ones who filed claims right after Sandy left town, as officials encouraged, didn’t see a lot of property damage.

City officials said no one was injured in the city during the storm. So while dozens of trees came down and 200 or so residents remained without power overnight, the city escaped relatively unscathed.

“It was minimal, minimal, minimal,” said Steve Dexter, president of Carol K. Steele Insurance.

Dexter said he had three claims for tree damage, the largest caused by a branch falling on a shed. Losses, Dexter said, weren’t more than $200.

Dexter said he spent Sunday preparing paperwork for homeowners, expecting extensive wind and flood damage. When the storm passed, he added, he was just glad Sandy didn’t live up to his expectations.

Sandy’s winds and windswept rain tore through Gloucester Monday and Tuesday. The storm, with winds reaching 80 miles per hour, knocked power down to over 4,000 customers in Gloucester alone, peeled back siding on the Birdseye building, and damaged a dock at the Cape Ann Marina.

But on a larger scale, the storm — which moved through Pennsylvania and made its way into Ontario early Wednesday, hit the south coast around New Bedford and Fall River hard Monday night. It left around 8 million customers without power on the eastern seaboard, with roughly 200,000 across Massachusetts by the time the storm cleared.

By Wednesday, city and National Grid crews had cleared most of the downed trees, branches, and power lines left by the storm. Roughly 210 customers in Gloucester were without power as of press time Wednesday night. National Grid, said spokeswoman Erin Del Llamo, expects to restore their power by Friday at the latest.

“That’s when we expect to have the last customer’s power restored,” said Del Llamo. The largest remaining local outages were reported in East Gloucester and at Eastern Point.

With the storm over, the city is tallying how much response efforts will cost. Jim Duggan, city Chief Administrative Officer, said he doesn’t have a cost estimate right now. Police, Fire and Public Works departments are still pulling their numbers together.

“We’re still gathering data, checking and rechecking,” said Duggan.

The city could be reimbursed for 75 percent of its response costs, right down to what it spent on overtime, if President Obama declares Massachusetts a post-disaster zone, Duggan said.

The city will submit its damage numbers to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Duggan said. He expects the city will have that together in the next week.

Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or sfletcher@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.