SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

October 31, 2012

North Shore cleans up damage

BY PAUL LEIGHTON STAFF WRITER
The Salem News

---- — BEVERLY — The North Shore spent yesterday cleaning up the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy while gratefully acknowledging that it could have been much worse.

“Overall, somebody was watching over us,” Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis said. “We were very fortunate.”

Officials said most of the fallout from the storm consisted of downed trees and branches and power outages.

Last night, a tree fell on an electric wire on Collins Street in Danvers, knocking out power to about a third of the town, according to police.

Nearly 26,000 National Grid customers in Essex County were without power as of press time last night, according to the company. Some of the outages were due to a brief thunderstorm late last night.

The North Shore experienced relatively little flooding, even in areas like Peabody Square that have been plagued by flooding in the past.

Aided by the advance notice of the storm, Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said the city cleared culverts and other choke points where water normally builds up.

“We prepared pretty well,” he said. “With the high tides and the full moon, there was real concern about possible flooding, but it was more of a windstorm than a rainstorm.”

Wind gusts peaked at 62 mph in the Salem area, according to Salem State University meteorologist Arthur Francis. The total rainfall was 1.24 inches.

Bettencourt said 30 to 40 trees fell across roads in Peabody and had to be removed. Gardner Street was closed for a short time yesterday morning until two large trees were taken away.

Salem lost 35 to 40 trees across the city, including eight or nine “real big” ones, said Department of Public Services Director Richard Rennard. Most of those will be replaced in the spring, he said.

The city had some flooding on Commercial Street, where the North River overflowed its banks, but otherwise high waters were not a big problem, Rennard said.

“Fortunately, because we didn’t really have any flooding, I could concentrate my whole force on tree and branch removal,” he said.

In Beverly, the city will open its composting site on Standley Street six days a week to accommodate residents who want to dispose of downed branches and other yard waste.

“I think we were very fortunate,” Mayor Bill Scanlon said.

Marquis said the town of Danvers will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay cleanup costs, including overtime pay for police, fire, public works and electric workers. Communities are eligible for 75 percent federal reimbursement of costs directly related to the storm, he said.

Marquis said the town had a school bus and a driver on call to evacuate people and Holten Richmond Middle School ready as shelter.

“Fortunately, we didn’t have to put into place all of the contingency plans,” he said.

In Wenham, Town Administrator Mark Andrews sent out an automated message to residents inviting anyone without electricity to charge their cellphones at Town Hall or the police or fire stations.

“We have coffee and hot beverages for anyone in need,” he said.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.