Hilltowns feel brunt of Sandy’s fury; Valley's damage minimal
This tree fell across the street and into the yard of the South Congregational Church parsonage on South East Street in Amherst on Monday, just grazing the roof and one window. KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »
Tropical Storm Sandy dealt only a glancing blow to the area overnight, leaving most Valley communities with minimal damage. While a number of trees and wires were reported down, Sandy’s remnants this morning appeared to be roads covered with water-logged leaves, twigs and branches and a few small trees.
However, the storm’s fury did considerable damage to some Hilltown communities, especially Plainfield, where downed trees and utility poles closed several roads.
According to officials at the American Red Cross, 25 people spent the night at the shelter at the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
David Alvord, assistant fire chief in Plainfield, said this morning the storm brought down trees and utility poles on several roads.
“There are a lot of closed roads,” he said.
And in Westhampton, a tree crashed through the roof of the Main Road home owned by the Massimino family.
Some 300 area Western Massachusetts Electric Company customers — half of them in Plainfield — were without power as of 8 this morning, according to the utility’s website. National Grid reports this morning that 455 Hampshire County customers had lost power.
The superstorm swept through the eastern seaboard, leaving 6.5 million customers without power across 13 states and the District of Columbia, according to the latest CNN estimate. At least 15 people have died.
Despite the devastation elsewhere, area roads were largely clear this morning, in part, due to fast work by area work and utility crews.
Some schools remain closed today, including Smith Vocational in Northampton, where an emergency shelter was set up overnight. Belchertown and Granby high schools and Hampshire and Gateway regional high schools also remain closed. Northampton, Amherst and Easthampton schools are open today.
There was minimal damage in Amherst and Hadley 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.
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Hampshire colleges were open.
Residents in lower-lying areas, including Northampton, suffered only minimal impact from the storm. No flood damage was reported.
Greg Zakrzewski of Florence said he and his family rode out the storm enjoying “a nice dinner and a nice bottle of wine,” while watching New York City get hammered.
Talking at Dunkin Donuts in Easthampton, where he stopped for coffee on his way to work this morning, Zakrzewski said an inspection of his property found little damage. He said he prepared for the storm by putting outside equipment and furniture away. He also had a gas-powered generator ready to provide power if they lost electricity, but the lights only flickered a couple of times.
Reporters Nick Grabbe and Barbara Solow contributed to this story.