GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 30, 2012

Sandy socks Cape Ann

Downed trees, lines kill power to 3,000-plus

By Steven Fletcher Staff Writer
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The winds and coastal storm surge of what is now Post-Tropical Storm Sandy, whose core remained hundreds of miles away, pounded Cape Ann Monday and through the night, downing trees and power lines and pounding the coastline with menacing gray surf while cutting electricity to at least 3,000 Gloucester homes and businesses.

Sustained winds of 65 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 85 mph in late afternoon, pounded Gloucester, especially, and were expected to continue until early this morning, said Police Chief Leonard Campanello.

Emergency and utility crews responded feverishly throughout the day, tending to, among other issues, at least one transformer fire, a fire in a generator outside a home on Granite Street, a tree that crashed onto the roof of a house on Washington Street, and numerous flooding problems on roads and streets at the shoreline.

Police closed a number of roads on the Back Shore, with Gloucester, according to the National Weather

Service, facing another two to three feet of storm surge through the night.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency expected damaging winds, which began shortly after noon Monday, to last between 12 and 18 hours, along with continued widespread power outages and heavy rains.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said the city would continue to have additional police and firefighters on duty through the night and into this morning. The city’s emergency operations center at Fuller School will remain open as well, he added.

“We’ll ride out the storm,” Campanello said.

The National Weather Service predicts that winds will ease by this afternoon.

The city had not called off school or closed municipal offices for today as of press time Monday night, though

Gloucester, Manchester Essex and Rockport public schools were closed yesterday, as was the city’s Endicott College campus on Commercial Street.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk said Superintendent Richard Safier was expected to decide whether or not to call off school between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. today.

“We’re waiting to see what the damage is,” said Kirk.

Gloucester has not opened an emergency shelter, but the Red Cross has opened a regional shelter at the Newbury Middle School on 63 Hanover St. in Newbury.

While residents may be drawn to the coast to see the storm’s effects, city officials have urged them to stay off the shoreline.

By staying on the coast or in the water during the storm, Campanello said residents are putting themselves and the city’s police, firefighters and paramedics in danger.

Responding to calls on the water during the storm will pull public safety personnel away from other issues in the city, he added.

The storm took down trees across the city and other parts of Cape Ann.

A fallen tree brought one down on a transformer in

West Gloucester, while another cashed onto a Washington Street house, just north of Grant Circle. The storm also sent several tree limbs crashing down on

Grant Circle itself, while another blocked traffic at the corner of the Route 128 Extension at the Eastern Avenue lights. A utility pole also fell onto a car near the Back Shore.

The city’s Department of Public Works worked through the night to clear away debris.

Mayor Kirk said that residents should call the department to report downed trees at 978-281-9785. Residents should also call their utility companies to report power outages and loss of cable and telephone services. In emergencies, Kirk said, residents should call 911. Residents should not approach downed wires on their own.

Before the brunt of the damaging winds struck, some residents turned out at Stacy Boulevard, where waves had just begun splashing up over the sea wall. While several residents said they weren’t worried about wind and waves from the coming hurricane, Don Watson said he was going to be cautious.

Watson took pictures of the storm on the Boulevard Monday, saying he expected it to come in like aspects of the so-called deadly “Perfect Storm” that struck 21 years ago today. He added, however, that the extensive advance warnings should ease the impact. For all the damage reported Monday, there were no reports of any storm-related injuries.

While the storm loomed over Gloucester yesterday, city resident and Salem State professor Mark Zaitchik said he’s not as worried about its damage here as he is about what Sandy will do in the mid-Atlantic states.

He watched the surf from the Boulevard Monday morning. The massive storm, covering some 900 miles, was making landfall in southern New Jersey Monday night, and was tracking as heading north and west into Pennsylvania and New York state.

“I’m worried about what’s going on in New York and New Jersey,” he said. “My son’s currently living in Brooklyn Heights.”

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