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Hurricane Sandy blows roof off South East Street barn

The roofing from Sophie Craze's barn in Amherst became airborne during the worst of Sandy's winds Monday night and landed in trees, hedges, and across the street in neighbor's yards, narrowly missing the house, cars, and other potentially serious targets.
JOSH KUCKENS

The roofing from Sophie Craze's barn in Amherst became airborne during the worst of Sandy's winds Monday night and landed in trees, hedges, and across the street in neighbor's yards, narrowly missing the house, cars, and other potentially serious targets. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

A South East Street barn lost half its roof to a powerful gust of wind from Hurricane Sandy Monday night, leaving a large pile of metal strewn about the yard and in the nearby road.

Nobody was hurt in the incident and South East Street was closed only briefly. Clean up crews equipped with a bucket loader arrived shortly before 7 p.m. and pushed a sheet of metal to the side of the road, opening the way for traffic.

But the potential for danger remained. Two sheets of metal dangled high in a tree beside the road while a heap of roof lay nearby in the residence’s yard. A hedge along the roadway appeared to have prevented much of the debris from making it to the street.

Trees came down on several roads, including Amity, South Pleasant and South East streets in Amherst, leaving some without power. Otherwise, there was minimal damage in Amherst, Hadley, Pelham, Leverett and Shutesbury from the hurricane, police said, with most power restored Tuesday morning and downed trees removed from the roads. “We were lucky here in Amherst,” said Detective Tina Knightly.

In Pelham, Police Chief Gary Thomann said the response was greatly aided by tree crews working side by side with electric crews. In previous storms the two did not work together, he said, but during Sandy tree crews did not have to wait long for power to be turned off before they could begin work, he said.

“That made a big difference,” Thomann said

Sophie Craze, the barn’s owner, said she was at her 1420 South East St. home around 6:30 p.m. when she heard a loud noise from outside. “It was pretty scary,” she said. “It just flew from the roof. If we’d been standing there we’d been smashed.”

There are no animals housed in the barn, she said. The metal roof was installed three years ago on top of the building’s old roof, she said. She estimated the barn to be 60 feet long by 48 feet in wide. The barn has a peaked roof. Its entire north side had been shorn away, leaving the structure’s old roof exposed to the elements.

Amherst Town Manager John Musante said the emergency operations center at the police station worked smoothly and most people observed the two reverse 911 calls he made Monday to stay indoors and off the roads, so emergency crews could do their jobs.

He said the homeless shelter successfully opened at the First Baptist Church to ensure up to 22 homeless individuals had a place to stay and keep out of the weather.

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