Town of Sandwich reeling from weekend blizzard; homes sustain damage, schools closed this week
Storm cleanup has been a grueling process in the town of Sandwich, where downed trees and coastal flooding still prevent plows from reaching some streets.
After the storm passed, 98 percent of Sandwich residents were without power and more than 100 of the town’s roads were blocked by fallen trees, city officials said. Schools will be closed until at least next week due to water damage and broken generators, Town Manager George Dunham said.
“We got hit pretty hard, especially with all the downed trees,” said Paul Tilton, director of the Department of Public Works. “I’ve never even seen more trees down after a hurricane.”
The trees, and the power lines they brought down with them, have to be cleared before plows can pass safely through streets. In many cases, Tilton said, cleanup crews only had time to shove fallen trees and wires to the side of the road.
Now those same crews, many of whom have only been home once or twice since the storm hit, must go back and clean up the detritus, Tilton said.
Along the shoreline, the storm’s clawing waves eroded as much as 20 feet of sand dune in some places, Dunham said. The foundations of four houses were so thoroughly undermined that they are collapsing into holes where there used to be earth.
“They sure look like they’re damaged beyond repair,” Dunham said. “I don’t know what anyone could do for them.”
The ocean swells ripped apart portions of the town’s boardwalk and flooded coastal streets. The water froze over the snow after the storm, creating a nightmare for Tilton and the town’s plows.
“You basically lose the roads because some of our smaller trucks can’t handle the plowing,” Tilton said. “Storms of this magnitude cause sinkholes, pavement deterioration, and drainage issues.”
Dunham said the town is still assessing the damage from the storm, but he estimated the cost will exceed $500,000, not counting the damage to Sandwich High School and Oak Ridge School.
The high school’s emergency generator, which was supplying power to the city’s shelter during the storm, failed Sunday and must be replaced, Dunham said. And the pipes for Oak Ridge School’s sprinkler system froze and cracked at some point during the storm, causing severe damage to two floors.
Dunham said repairing the damage at Oak Ridge School alone could cost another $500,000.Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.