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Cleanup begins in Salem, more than 1,000 still without power

Posted by Ryan Mooney  October 30, 2012 09:38 AM

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The city of Salem escaped any major problems related to Hurricane Sandy on Monday, but the effects of the storm are still being felt.

According to a live outage map on the National Grid website, 1,019 people throughout Salem - from Winter Island, through the downtown area, to North Salem near Peabody and South Salem by Marblehead - were still without electricity as of 9:54 a.m.

Call logs from the Salem police show 23 storm-related calls in less than three hours yesterday from 1 to 4 p.m. Ron Malionek, assistant director of the Department of Public Works, estimates that the DPW fielded between 60 and 70 calls yesterday for downed trees and limbs, including about a dozen for trees that fell on homes requiring heavy machinery for removal. Calls were still trickling in Tuesday morning.

But overall, it seems that the city escaped any major havoc. Flooding, which Harbormaster Bill McHugh expressed concerns about on Friday, was not an issue along the waterfront, and even the usual trouble areas by the North River and on Canal Street remained passable to traffic.

"We got prepared for [flooding], with the astronomical high-tide we were geared up for it, but nothing really of event happened, so we were spared with that," Malionek said. "The rain wasn't really too bad, it was just wind damage mostly."

That wind, which reached a peak of 59 mph in nearby Beverly at 6 p.m., according to reports from the National Weather Service's regional office in Taunton, was capable of tearing part of the roof off of a home on Webb Street, and was threatening enough to ground crews working on damaged trees and wires for a time Monday.

"At one point we probably had five bucket trucks in the air and at one point we had to make sure that everyone was out of the buckets because of the wind, for a period of about three or four hours," Malionek said.

Malionek credits the city's preparation with keeping the damage to a minimum, but still expects cleanup efforts to last through the week.

"We did a little overkill with preparation and it paid off," Malionek said. "It's always good to prepare more."

Public schools re-opened today with a two-hour delay, and according to a statement from Mayor Kim Driscoll, cleanup crews are tackling the areas near the city's schools and the hospital first.

With the city's massive Halloween celebration expected to bring tens of thousands of visitors to the downtown area tomorrow night, workers will also be focusing heavily on the downtown area, says Donna Michaud, and administrative assistant with the DPW. Driscoll plans on meeting with other city officials later today to discuss what, if any changes need to be made in regards to Halloween festivities.

"It was a wild day yesterday afternoon," Michaud said. "And we still have Halloween to deal with tomorrow night, so they're trying to make it safe for the party. They'll be coming out, everyone's going to be wanting to celebrate."

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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