DANVERS — The town was hit hard by a severe wind storm that knocked out power to half of Danvers early Thursday morning.
At 11 a.m., Doug Coffin stood on the corner across the street from his home at 57 Purchase St. as crews from Mayer Tree Service used equipment to remove a tree that had fallen on the side of his house.
No one got hurt, but Coffin thinks his home of 10 years is a total loss.
At 3 a.m., his daughters, ages 10 and 12, woke up from the howling gusts. The family gathered in a corner bedroom, opposite to where the tree struck.
"The girls got up. They were scared," Coffin said. "I looked out the window and it was just, the wind was just angry," he said. "And I knew trees were going to come down. I was praying they didn't hit the house, about two minutes later it sounded like a freight train came through the front of the house."
"I think it's totaled," he added. "If you go in the house, the front door is crooked to the side. I think it's a goner."
Danvers lost power to about half of its municipal customers, said Town Manager Steve Bartha, adding that long-time town employees could not recall ever seeing so much damage. The wind storm knocked out four of six major circuits. The town serves about 13,000 customers in total.
"Danvers got hit as hard as anywhere," said Bartha. Electric and tree crews, he said, were out as early as 2:30 a.m. to restore power and clear roads from downed trees.
He said Woodvale, Summer Street and North Street were back open by noon. The focus then shifted to the east and southeast areas of town to restore power. He anticipated customers living east of Danvers Square would be back on late afternoon or early evening.
The southern part of town would be restored Thursday night, he said, but Sylvan, Pine, Collins and Centre streets aren't expected to regain power until sometime Friday.
According to power outage maps, approximately half of Beverly and Salem lost power, as well, during the storm. And in both cities, according to National Grid, the utility company is telling customers it might not be until late Saturday night that power is fully restored.
Doug Coffin's neighborhood served as a microcosm of the damage around town and in other communities.
Neighbors interviewed said strong winds around 3 a.m. uprooted trees, hit homes and cars, and took out power lines.
Kathryn Morano, 69, of 47 Purchase St., lamented the loss of the red maple in her backyard, a tree she recalls being planted as a sapling when she was 5. A large limb at the base of the tree split and lay across her neighbor's house and car. She said her neighbor just had a new roof installed.
Retired Beverly firefighter John Salvanelli, who lives across the street from Morano, said he has never seen anything like it.
"My whole house shook. It was incredible. It was as bad as the Danvers explosion if you remember years ago," Salvanelli said, referring the November 2006 Danversport chemical plant explosion.
Scott Cordiner, of 4 Arthur St., said his home escaped damage when a tree at the front of the house toppled across the road and on top of the house across the street. The force of the wind ripped up the tree by its roots and pulled up slabs of the sidewalk. Since Superstorm Sandy in 2012 — when a tree hit a house just up the street — Cordiner has been nervous about a tree hitting his home. He decided to wake his wife up and go downstairs. It was 3:02 a.m.
"And just as we are going downstairs, we hear this loud creaking sound, and that was the tree coming down," Cordiner said. They opened up the door and with a flashlight could see the sky had opened up where the tree once was. They called 911.
The tree hit the home of Shawn Elliott, who decorates his yard in a massive display for Christmas each year, which is also a fundraiser for Boston Children's Hospital. Cordiner said two of his neighbor's cars were damaged and that the home suffered some damage to the gutters, but appeared to be otherwise OK.
Arthur Francis, a Salem State University climatologist, said the storm was a "bombogenesis," which is characterized by an extremely rapid drop in barometric pressure, accompanied by extremely gusty winds. He said the storm gave him the lowest pressure reading he has seen for October, with his records going back to 1977. He described the drop in pressure as "phenomenal." He recorded a gust in Salem as high as 60 mph at 8 a.m. The storm also produced nearly 2 inches of rain overnight.
Other North Shore cities and towns were lashed by the storm as well.
In Swampscott, trees and limbs could be seen down on homes and garages along Atlantic Avenue and on several side streets.
Seaview Avenue in Marblehead was completely blocked by downed trees and wires around 9:40 a.m.
On Glendale Road, Tyler Callahan said his parents house at No. 21 wound up with a hole in the attic when a large tree came down on his house, and the one next door. His neighbor across the street, John Sullivan, said his home did not suffer any damage, but the tree ripped the power line off his house. Ironically, he said, his neighbors across the street still had power.
"It could be a heck of a lot worse," said Sullivan. "It's just a shame to see these old-growth trees come down."
Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt took to Facebook to give an update: "In Peabody, high winds resulted in downed tree limbs and scattered power outages. Peabody Municipal Light Plant crews responded quickly and are working to restore power to those affected." DPW crews were also out clearing storm drains, picking up downed limbs and other debris.
"All told, Peabody fared pretty well considering the severity and duration of the storm," Bettencourt said. At one point, the light plant said it had only 246 reported outages.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.