Published in the August 26, 2020 edition.
WAKEFIELD — The cleanup continues.
Not many sections of town were spared from Sunday afternoon’s wild weather that downed trees, knocked out power for thousands of Municipal Gas and Light Department customers, caused at least one fire and damaged many a property. The storm’s destructive path was wide, and picking up in its wake will take awhile.
DPW Director Joe Conway explained that the cleanup operation began Sunday night, as public works crews and those working for contractor Mayer Tree Service employed two material handling machines and a crane to take trees and large limbs off of town streets to make them passable to traffic. Additionally, they labored to get leaning trees and limbs off of homes.
The material handling crews cut up the larger downed debris and readied it for the log loader. That part of the operation is on-going, as is the collection of miscellaneous branches, leaves and the like that, according to Conway, left neighborhoods unsightly.
Main Street along Lake Quannapowitt, including the Veterans Memorial Common, was hit hard during the storm, which packed winds that reached near 70 miles an hour. Crews were on the Veterans Memorial Common this morning, limbing up a large birch tree that fell victim to the storm. The DPW’s street sweeper was also out today, and the cleanup plan calls for a contracted street sweeper to help in the effort.
The tree damage around Wakefield is extensive. In places where town trees were felled or heavily damaged, replanting will be done, possibly this fall. “We’ll have quite a list,” Conway said.
The cleanup operation will last at least through tomorrow and probably extend to the rest of the week.
For those able to get debris to Nahant Street, the town’s Yard Waste facility will be open to Wakefield residents only now through Friday, August 28, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Police got 24 calls about trees on homes beginning Sunday around 5:40 p.m., and another 20 reports of trees on electrical lines.
The first call came in at 5:39 p.m. for a tree and wires down near 88 Elm St. At 6:04 p.m. a large tree was hanging over the MBTA tracks at Myrtle Street. At 6:06 p.m. a downtown bank alarm went off because of a power outage. The Houston Street incident was reported around 6:20 p.m. The DPW requested that Green Street be closed because trees, limbs and wires were down near Shady Avenue around 6:20 p.m. Trees and wires were down around 6:30 p.m. on Salem Street at Rochelle Drive.
At 6:44 p.m. police were told that the traffic lights along North Avenue at Albion Street and Prospect Street were out, as were the signals at Water and Crescent streets. A wire was arcing on Nahant Street around 6:50 p.m. A utility police fire was reported on Nahant Street. At about 9 p.m. the DPW was asked to put traffic cones out at Elm Street and Wester Avenue.
At 6:26 a.m. yesterday, a line was down on Cutter Street, preventing access to North Avenue.
In a statement, Town Council Chair Ann Santos wrote:
“As you are all aware, Wakefield was hit with a severe storm late yesterday afternoon causing much damage as trees were uprooted all over town. In fact the Fire department received 53 calls for service over a 1 hour stretch, including a 2 alarm fire on Elm Street. I am happy to report that while there was much physical damage, we have had NO reports of any personal injury.
“As Team Wakefield did last night, crews from Wakefield Police, Fire, DPW, MLD and our private partners will continue to work with safety being the number one priority. These crews have done an amazing job and we are all thankful to be blessed with such dedicated personnel. We ask you to please be patient and to call 911 in the event that any emergency occurs.
“2020 is certainly testing our resolve! We are all up for the challenge.”