Storm destroys playground, ballpark fence in Easthampton

  • A view of Easthampton looking down Union Street with the first Congregational church in the center. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

  • A tree fell on the playground in Nonotuck Park in Easthampton during a damaging storm Friday. FOR THE GAZETTE/Sabato Visconti

Staff Writer
Published: 8/27/2022 11:30:00 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Severe thunderstorms with damaging straight-line wind gusts Friday downed trees and damaged a city playground and fencing in a park.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning throughout southern New England Friday afternoon, cautioning against localized flooding, hail and even a low threat for an isolated tornado.

Trees and wires were reportedly downed throughout the state with more than 500 Eversource customers without power at its peak, according to the agency’s outage map.

In Easthampton, storm damage appeared to be isolated to one section of the city, said Parks and Recreation Director John Mason.

Easthampton police officers responded to numerous calls for trees and power lines down, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Glendale, Gaugh and Davis streets as well as Williston Avenue were all closed to traffic around at approximately 2:25 p.m. Friday. Nonotuck Park was also closed.

“We’re the only spot in town that got hit as far as I can tell,” said Mason. “I did a tour of our other properties around the city, and there’s nothing.”

On Saturday morning, Parks and Recreation staff performed site assessments at all of the properties the department oversees, clearing pathways and determining whether any trees have structural damage or present any safety risk. As of Saturday morning, Mason estimated that there were between 15 and 20 downed trees, some of which were splintered or had hanging tree limbs. Most of the trees were pines.

“As far as damage goes, the outfield fence for the high school baseball field was destroyed and the kid’s playground on Daly Field was taken out as well — the main playground structure is destroyed,” he said, adding that the playground was roughly 15 years old.

Approximately five trees were knocked down in Brookside Cemetery. As of Saturday, Mason said it was unclear if there had been any damage to the gravestones as it wasn’t safe to go in and try to assess what might be damaged underneath the trees.

Throughout the week, Mason said a tree service will come in to help remove the downed trees. In the meantime, all of the parks in the city remain open.

Mason said he would discuss with Mayor Nicole LaChapelle how the damage cleanup would be funded as well as what the next steps will be with the city playground.

“Getting everything removed is paramount,” he said. “And worrying about where funding is coming from is secondary.”

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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