Nor’easter damage uproots large healthy trees in Smithfield

Nor’easter damage uproots large healthy trees in Smithfield

Richard Turenne, of Smithfield, examines the top of a utility pole that was snapped and left dangling on Sebille Road, in Smithfield, during Friday’s storm. Turenne was out checking the damage in his Esmond neighborhood Saturday afternoon. (Breeze photos by Bill Murphy)

SMITHFIELD – Last Friday’s wind and rain storm brought down trees and powerlines, causing 1,841 homes to lose power in Smithfield, according to Todd Manni, the town’s director of emergency management.

Manni sent a warning out to residents, and asked that as the damage cleared, to keep a safe distance from the Woonasquatucket River until the rising water subsided.

“It’s a fast moving river and I don’t want any accidents,” Manni said.

The town was in line to be hit by another storm in the forecast for Wednesday, March 7, with heavy snow expected.

As of Monday morning, an additional 29 Smithfield homes were still without power. Manni said damage on those homes was more significant, including service lines being pulled directly from structures by felled trees. Manni said the town loaned out generators and pumps to those in need.

“We saw significant tree damage in this storm. It was a big storm, a powerful Nor’easter,” he said, adding that the extensive damage is a huge indicator of the power of the wind.

Manni said the storm reminded him of Tropical Storm Irene in Aug. 2011, where large, healthy trees were uprooted, as opposed to snapping and breaking. He said many of the downed trees had exposed root balls, showing that the ground was wet, and the larger trees were pulled from the earth.

On Sebille Road, a “huge” tree was blown over during the storm, landing on a UPS truck and knocking out power for Esmond Village. Manni said it took five hours to restore power after multiple crews were called to remove the tree from the truck. Fortunately, the driver was uninjured, he said.

Another “massive” tree fell on Bruno Avenue, narrowly avoiding a house, and closing traffic on the street until Monday morning.

“As luck would have it, there were a lot more close calls than damage,” Manni said.

Manni said the town was working directly with National Grid to restore service in the 72 hours immediately following the storm and to identify priority areas with the extensive power loss.

He said he and crews worked until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, beginning at 6 a.m. the following morning.

A crushed UPS truck was still at the spot on Sebille Road, in Smithfield, Saturday afternoon where a tree fell onto it during Friday’s storm. The driver escaped without injury, but power was knocked out in the Esmond neighborhood last weekend.
A tree crashed into a duplex under construction on Morgan Lane, in Smithfield, during Friday’s intense storm.
A fallen tree lies at the corner of Esmond and Julien Streets Saturday afternoon in the aftermath of Friday’s storm.