Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 1, 2012

Recovering from Sandy

Thousands lost power, schools closed two days

Neil Fater and Judy Wakefield Staff Writers
The Andover Townsman

---- — The storm that started as Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to thousands of Andover homes, including a section of senior housing at Chestnut Court, as well as to the Andover water treatment plant and several schools. As of late Tuesday night, Townsman presstime, Andover High and South Elementary school were in the dark, but the superintendent has decided to declare all schools open for Wednesday morning, based on information from National Grid. If workers could not restore power to those two schools by early Wednesday morning, the superintendent then would put out a message informing parent of the continuing problem, said police Chief Brian Pattullo Tuesday night.

Even with schools reopened on Wednesday, the last day of the school year now will be June 25, 2013 — and there hasn’t been a flake of snow yet this school year.

But Andover avoided the worst of Sandy, which plunged much of New York City into darkness. In part because the temperature was warm, this week’s storm also was not nearly as damaging in Andover as last year’s snowstorm, when cold temperatures turned rain into snow, and the weight of the snow caused greater damage to more trees. Last year, many residents went without heat for four or five days.

National Grid crews were still working on restoring service to 3,193 customers in Andover late Tuesday morning. By later afternoon that number had been reduced to about 1,600, according to National Grid spokeswoman Charlotte McCormick.

“It’s just a weird pattern. Two storms right before Halloween,” said Plant & Facilities Director Maria Maggio. “It wasn’t as bad as last year. I’d say we got 10 to 15 percent of the calls we got last year.”

Maggio said National Grid was better ready this year and workers repaired tree-damaged electrical lines well into the night on Monday and Tuesday. Pattullo said there were 30 tree and 30 line crews in town, with National Grid officials involved in numerous meetings with town workers.

“But, you can’t send someone up if winds are 40 mph or higher. It’s too dangerous,” Maggio said. “And when it gets dark, it’s even more difficult.”

Workers dealt with flashes of more intense wind into Tuesday night, including the windstorm that knocked out power to South Elementary School.

Power was lost Monday at the water treatment plant on Lowell Street,

which switched to an emergency generator, said police Chief Brian

Pattullo. But, by Tuesday, the water treatment plant was back to normal. The Fish Brook water-pumping station was still running by generator Tuesday, but officials said the town had plenty of water.

Dana Campbell of Johnson Road said her older neighborhood lost some big trees in the storm.

A tree in her backyard toppled and made a mess of her neighbor’s fence.

“At least it just missed the house…it fell diagonally,” she wrote in an email. “If you need to see the power of the hurricane, I think this is a good example...Johnson Acres has so many older trees, that it is a worry with every storm we have.”

“We have numerous trees down, spotty power outages. We

probably have 20 percent [of homes] out of power in town,” said Pattullo

moments after speaking with Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

Monday night. “We have a lot of trees down and road closures or areas

that are roped off so people won’t drive under low-hanging wires.”

On Monday, about 20 Andover streets were fully closed or had been limited to one lane because of trees knocked down by strong wind gusts. But by Tuesday afternoon, Pattullo was reporting, “All major roads are open. There’s at least one lane open on some of the side streets (affected).

“There are still spotty power outages. Most are street to home sorts of things,” he said. “Individual homes, those are going to be the last priority. It might be a day or two or three before the crews get to those.” Crews are being sent to areas with more widespread problems first.

Utility companies had been put on notice by Gov. Deval Patrick to do a better job this year than they did in last year’s pre-Halloween storm or face fines.

There was also isolated flooding caused by storm drains clogged with leaves. Public works employees spent Monday and Tuesday clearing drains in areas such as Shawsheen Plaza, Beacon Street, River Road and the bottom of Essex Street.

Workers from the town’s forestry, parks, highway and public works departments handled the cleanup around town. Felled trees could be found across town.

The town reports that homeowners can pick up fallen branches on their property, bundle those branches in small groups and put them with their household trash. But they should not leave limbs and other debris by the road, expecting the town to clean them up.

CLEANING UP

The Department of Public Works offered this information to those cleaning up their yards after Superstorm Sandy.

Trash on target: Trash and recycling are being picked up on the regular schedule during this week.

Branches & debris removal: Town crews are working to clear downed trees and large limbs from roadways only, not private yards. Residents should contact a private tree service for removal of trees and limbs from their property. Residents should not place limbs and storm debris along the roadway or on sidewalks. There is no public drop-off location.

Discolored water: Due to a slight disruption in power at the McQuade Water Treatment Plant on Monday, Oct. 29, residents may have experienced disruption in water service and/or discolored water for sporadic periods. People who experience discolored water are advised to run outside spigots for 10-15 minutes to flush the outside lines before the water enters the house. `