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Downed trees, power lines keep cleanup crews busy Wednesday

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BY RYNE R. MARTIN

BRASHER FALLS - A Brasher Falls area family was still surveying the damage Wednesday morning after a weather event wreaked havoc, including uprooting a tree and blowing off a barn roof, shortly before 8:20 p.m. Tuesday on the West Mahoney Road in the town of Brasher.

Robert Forbes said he and his step-daughter, Jackie, were watching the storm approach out their living room window.

“We were standing in the living room window and all of a sudden we saw the trees start to go down, We headed for the basement but by the time we got there it was over. It’s amazing what Mother Nature can do in a minute’s time,” he said.

Mr. Forbes said there was no damage to his house, but his yard was littered with fallen trees, horse run ins had been moved in two pastures and a third 12-foot by 48-foot shelter was destroyed and blown into a wooded area.

“It snapped the poles right off on that one,” he noted.

He said a shelter in the pasture across the road from his home was picked up by the wind and set back down approximately 130 feet away and a shelter in the pasture behind his barn was moved 30 feet. A horse trailer was blown over, moved several yards and heavily damaged.

The roof was also blown off a barn that had recently been filled with hay. Mr. Forbes said the barn was 11 or 12 years old. The roof was dropped several feet behind the barn.

He said the roof has hurricane ties on it, but he noted it was still no match for Mother Nature.

“It was double-plated, but all the plates went with it so the hurricane ties didn’t make a difference in this case,” he noted.

Mr. Forbes was joined at his farm Wednesday morning by fellow horse enthusiasts who were assisting him with the initial steps necessary to protect the hay in his barn and assessing the damage.

They were among hundreds of local residents and employees working on cutting up fallen trees, restoring power and making repairs to property damaged by the winds in the 45 mph range that roared through the central part of the county between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Tuesday.

National Grid was reporting at 7 p.m. Wednesday that there were still a few hundred customers - including 112 in the town of Canton and 110 in the town of Potsdam - without power in St. Lawrence County. The utility had an estimated restoration time of 6 p.m. Thursday for those customers.

The utility had reported at 7 a.m. Wednesday that 3,801 of its 43,023 customers in St. Lawrence County were without power.

They were among 48,387 National Grid customers without power in upstate New York as of 7 a.m. Wednesday, including 11,587 in Onondaga County, 10,033 in Oswego County and 4,274 in Warren County. There are also 272 customers in Franklin County, primarily in the Akwesasne-Bombay area.

The largest outages Wednesday morning in St. Lawrence County included 782 customers in Fine, 748 in Fowler, 591 in Clifton, 464 in Canton and 162 in Russell.

As of 7 a.m., 231 customers were without power in Parishville, 171 in Potsdam, 110 in Colton, 45 in Stockholm and 38 in Brasher.

Highway departments in much of the county were busy Tuesday night and Wednesday.

“(It was) mostly around the Potsdam area and some around in the Hannawa Falls area that was bad,” Potsdam Highway Superintendent John A. Keleher said. “(Wednesday) we had to pick up some trees, branches, brushes. It will be about a total of three days of working. By the end of the week we should be about done.”

Mr. Keleher said his crew was working until midnight Tuesday night and the South Canton Road was among the worst in terms of trees down.

Colton Highway Department employee Raymond Dunning and Pierrepont Highway Superintendent Shawn D. Spellacy said they were fortunate to have received limited damage compared to their neighbors.

“We’re pretty well caught up and were fortunate,” Mr. Dunning said. “There was nothing major that I’m aware of. We had a couple of guys go out there for a while, but nothing serious.”

“The guys got at it (Wednesday) and got pretty much all of the damage from last night,” Mr. Spellacy added. “There are still a few wires down that I know of but other than that, it looks good.”

Brasher Highway Superintendent Larry P. Hewlett told town board members his crew had worked until 3 a.m. Wednesday working with volunteer firefighters to clear roads from the storm damage.

Mr. Forbes and his friends were marveling at the path of destruction on the West Mahoney Road, noting that even though the winds had blown off the barn roof, a garden planted behind the barn seemed relatively unscathed.

A next door neighbor lost only a couple of shingles off their house and a couple of trees in a pasture.

They were also making some suggestions about the weather event that had caused the damage.

“It was just bang. I don’t know what it was - a microburst, a tornado ...,” Mr. Forbes said.

One of his friends suggested if it was a tornado it would have sounded like a train.

“I didn’t hear a train, but the train came through here. I think it derailed,” he said as he looked around his yard that saw four of the six trees surrounding the family’s house on the ground.

His wife, Kathy Forbes, was still amazed that the hanging plants on her porch were still there, but the trees hadn’t survived the storm. She said she had been driving home when she received a call from her daughter about the damage at the property. But she said her trip home was delayed when a tree fell down, blocking Route 420 for a period of time Tuesday night. She said the force of the wind of her ride home had actually pushed her vehicle into the opposite lane at one point.

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