Cleanup continues after violent weather takes toll in Dalton
Photo Gallery | Storm damage in the Greenridge Park Neighborhood in Dalton
DALTON -- John Czarnacki has an ample supply of fresh firewood in his yard, thanks to Sunday's tree-toppling thunderstorm that roared through the Greenridge section of town.
The high winds were so intense that Czarnacki and his wife Shirley didn't hear the 60-foot poplar and four large cherry trees in their backyard on Pleasantview Drive crash atop each other, brushing up against a neighbor's house.
"We were in the kitchen looking out the window and saw a sheet of horizontal rain," said the husband. "When the rain was gone, we saw the trees ... lined up perfect, cushioned by the [10-foot high hemlock] hedge."
While the couple has a wood-burning stove, John Czarnacki noted the downed trees are more than he can handle and plans to have someone haul away the several cords of firewood.
The Czarnackis were among the dozens of homeowners along the Dalton-Pittsfield town line on Monday who began cleaning up from the violent weather that ripped through central and southern Berkshire late Sunday afternoon.
The Greenridge area of Dalton, located near the Pittsfield town line, sustained the most concentrated damage as the powerful winds either uprooted or snapped off large limbs of at least 20 trees that brought down power lines. Some caused minor damage to at least six homes, according to Dalton fire officials.
Town highway crews spent Sunday night and all day Monday clearing tree damage from streets to make them passable and allow Western Massachusetts Electric Co. to restring downed power lines in Dalton and surrounding communities.
Gordon Tree Service was helping handle the private property cleanup. The Pittsfield company received a flood of calls from local homeowners.
"We lined up 12-15 houses and more calls are coming in," said Sharon Gordon, who co-owns the business with her husband, Dan Gordon.
Across from the Czarnackis on Pleasantview Drive, Corky and Ingrid Cullen had a large tree fronting their property that split in two. Half the tree was left standing, the other half grazed the garage where a new door had been installed last Friday, according to Ingrid.
"It's amazing how many houses weren't hit and thankfully, no one was hurt," she said.
Another close call occurred at the corner of Gertrude Road and Greenridge Drive where Amanda Parkington was home alone when a neighbor's tree was ripped from the ground, then fell across Gertrude, smashing her mailbox.
"It just missed the house and our wires," said Parkington. "The wind was so loud, you couldn't hear the tree come down."
On Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y. plans to send one of its meteorologists to inspect the damage, that was apparently caused by straight winds. Tornados were reported in Wolcott, Conn., near Waterbury, on Sunday, and in Revere on Monday.
Homeowners in the Williams and Elm streets area and Pittsfield side of Dalton Division Road also had tree damage to contend with, one blocking the driveway of Scott and Nikki Hoosick.
"I hated that tree anyway and wanted it cut down," said Nikki Hoosick.
The rest of Pittsfield's storm damage was scattered about the city. According to the Pittsfield Police log, the police department on Sunday received 11 calls regarding downed trees and 23 calls for downed wires.
One home on Miller Street near the Taconic High School campus was damaged by three trees, according to owner Lorenzo Raffa. He said two trees punched holes in a corner part of the roof -- covered with a tarp just before Mondays rains came -- and a third wiped out a stockade fence. Raffa wasn't home when the storm struck. His wife Jodi, her daughter Laurie and the three family dogs scrambled for the basement minutes before the trees crashed atop their home.
"It felt like the whole house exploded," Raffa recalled his wife saying. "It could have been worse -- the trees hitting the center of the house."
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