By Sue Botos
Westshore residents are continuing to dig out from the impact of the megastorm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy. The roar of chainsaws is a common sound in neighborhoods where giant trees, which had stood for decades, are being reduced to firewood. Schools are back in session after being cancelled for most of last week, and kids are sorting through their candy gathered during belated trick-or-treating over the weekend. Most residences and businesses have power again.
The storm was bad, but it could have been worse.
“This was not the worst I had seen, but it ranks in the top five,” commented safety-service Director Jim Linden, who has seen his share of storms during his 38 years with the city service department. He will retire in December.
“There was one storm in the ’80s that took about a week to clean up after, and one in the ’50s that devastated the city,” he recalled, stating that these storms caused more trees to fall and more power outages. Linden also said that the blizzard of January 1978 left people without heat or light for longer periods.
“We’re very fortunate that this happened now when temperatures are like this,” said Linden, referring to readings in the mid- to upper 40s. Although this was enough to make homes lacking power uncomfortable, Linden said winter storms with below freezing temperatures could cause additional problems, such as burst water pipes.
Fallen tree limbs on electrical lines and transformers accounted for many of the power outages, and Linden said that he began a tree trimming program in 1982. The plan calls for the cutting back of any branches from trees growing on treelawns, which could become a hazard in high winds or heavy snow.
“A tree planted on a treelawn should not be over 12 to 15 feet. Anything that can fall near a wire shouldn’t be planted close to it,” he stated. Linden added that the city treelawn planting program has been revised to include trees which will not grow into giants, such as oaks and maples.
While some residents became upset after being without power for several days, especially when seeing neighbors’ homes glowing, Linden said that a certain procedure must be followed that calls for patience.
First the roads must be cleared of branches,” said Linden. He said that while city service crews have been putting in “quality time” with chain saws, any trees wrapped with wires must be first addressed by the Illuminating Co., and then the city can remove branches.
“First the roads have to be cleared, then any senior (facilities) and multiresident buildings can be addressed, then individual residences,” he stated.