Lee suffers worst hit 'in a long time'

Friday June 10, 2011

LEE -- Mother Nature's second severe swipe at Lee within a 24-hour period blacked out the entire town and caused more damage than her first assault on the town.

The line of nasty thunderstorms that rumbled through the Berkshires around 4 p.m. Thursday took particular aim at a town that spent the day recovering from Wednesday night's storms, that brought down trees and caused a power outage on the west side.

However, the second-round of high winds and heavy rain left all homes and businesses in the dark and felled trees throughout all of Lee. Fortunately, no one was hurt during either storm, according to Lee Police.

"[Wednesday night] was one of the worst thunderstorms we've had in a long time," said Dennis Kelly, the town's assistant superintendent of public works. "But [Thursday's] storm ended up being worse."

The second power outage forced Lee MIddle and High School to postpone its Senior Night for the Class of 2011, which is graduating on Saturday. School officials have yet to reschedule the event.

As of press time, Western Massachusetts Electric Co. was slowly restoring electric service to Lee, as WMECO had to deal with more than 20,000 customers without service in the four county area.

"We expect to make a big dent in the outages on Friday," said WMECO spokeswoman Sandra Ahearn. "But some people may not get power restored until the weekend."

Meanwhile, Lee's public works department remained in street-clearing mode which began Wednesday night and continued into Thursday night. The town employees were constantly removing large trees and tree limbs that temporarily block several roads.

Greylock and Summer streets were among the newest areas to get hit on Thursday, while West Park and Spring streets sustained tree debris for the second straight day.

Greenock Country Club on West Park, which barely dodged storm damage on Wednesday night, didn't escape Thursday weather fury. Golf course superintendent Bob Decker said the storm toppled several trees including its 100-year-old trademark elm on the 6th tee.

"We're going to clear the course, which wasn't damaged and hope to re-open for the weekend," Decker said.

A half mile to the west, Wilson Wright Jr. had a huge pine tree to contend with, as it fell on the backside of his rental property at 320 Stockbridge Road during Wednesday night's storm.

"It's through the roof and into the house," Wright said. The property next to his auto repair shop that has been in the Wright family since the 1880s was insured, but he didn't have a cost estimate for the damage.

The high winds from Wednesday night's storm led to an unusual site near the home of Sharon Terry at 324 West Park.

When the storm subsided, Terry went outside to assess the damage and found the quick-hitting storm brought down six trees or parts of trees in her neighborhood.

"And the trampoline in my backyard, ended up hanging in a tree next door at my mother's house," she added.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.


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