by Dan McClelland
Near gale-force winds and a ferocious rain storm slapped Tupper Lake and nearby Adirondack communities in the face for about 20 minutes Friday evening, tossing about trees and utility poles as if they were matchsticks.
Winds during the brief attack by nature surpassed 70 miles per hour in some parts of the North Country, according to reports this week.
Most of the damage in Tupper Lake occurred in neighborhoods around Upper Park St. and Stetson Road, as well as River Road. The Junction area fared much better, just experiencing one outage.
Electrical Superintendent Marc Staves said that some of the system's infrastructure in the downtown area which had been damaged and which had been isolated from the main circuits for repairs, was hit again, before the village crews had time to re-energize those areas of the local grid.
The ferocity of the storm also broke a utility pole near the town's Little Wolf Beach and Campgrounds which serviced the North Little Wolf Beach area, which saw a number of downed trees. One large tree snapped in the front yard of the Lalonde residence, opposite the town beach.
Another utility pole was damaged at Moody near the Landry and Radimer residences.
A pole was also destroyed on Demars Blvd. near Family Dollar that had to be changed. From that pole, electric serve flows underground to the retail site.
Mr. Staves said that for a time Friday evening one of his department's crews just tackled pole replacements needed around town, leaving the other crews to concentrate on transmission line repairs.
He estimated Monday a half a dozen utility poles were damaged to the point their need replacement.
A brief forest fire occurred at Moody Friday evening when lines there were energized prematurely. It was quickly contained.
The forecast for the brief but violent storm contained the threat of tornados. Some here figure a microburst of sorts touched down briefly on upper Park Street, roared down Sunmount hill and cross the Wild Center campus and then up Raquette River, where it roiled water already over its banks.
Many smaller trees, which are more flexible, flopped from side to side, with their tops often touching the ground. Larger trees had a tendency to snap and topple to the ground.
At the intersection a village of Park Street and Lincoln Drive two utility poles, both carrying transformers, were snapped in two.
One of the two, in the driveway behind 335 Park Street, formed something an oval when the transformer toppled to the ground, but the top stayed suspended in the air.
Village electric crews replaced both broken poles that evening, restoring power to the upper Park St. neighborhoods serviced by them.
Electrical service to Dugal and River road neighborhoods, knocked out about 7:05p.m. when the utility pole on the state highway was broken in two, was restored shortly after 9p.m.
Most uptown neighborhoods were out of power for most of that evening. Every one of the village's main circuits were back on by midnight. There were some customers which were serviced by lateral lines that did not see their service restore until later in the weekend, when repairs could be made to those secondary lines.
The village electric crews worked through the night and until about 7:30a.m. making line and equipment repairs. The village employees caught a few hours of sleep and then returned about 11a.m. and worked through until nearly midnight. The crews worked most of Sunday as well.
Mr. Staves said his crews received help from a crew and single trucks dispatched here to help from the Lake Placid Municipal Electric System. He said there was apparently less damage in that neighboring village from the storm.
Many of the property owners on River Road saw one or more trees down. For a brief time it looked like a war was underway.
Two large pines dropped in Karen and Newton Greiner's yard, just brushing their boat and motor, trailered there. Next door at Randy Bedore's, another large pine fell.
The former residence of the late Harold Nichols across the street had a large pine dropped into the river.
A similar thing happened at Chris and Regina Bramberger's riverside house at 37 River Road, where two large pines, snapped at their base, both ended up in the river.
A third large tree fell and brushed the roof of Mary and Andy Christie's house about 60 feet away, fortunately only damaging a small part of the roof's soffit and fascia.
At the log cabin house next door that was for decades the residence of Dick and Gerry Godin, a large pine fell and covered most of its riverside deck and staircase leading to it.
Down the hill at Dan and Judy McClelland, two large pines and two smaller birch trees, that were growing on a narrow easement of river access for property owners on the north side of the road, all fell towards the house, two of them coming to rest on the edge of the main roof. Damage is expected to be minimal, once flood waters subside and the trees are removed.
For the hours following the sudden storm Friday volunteer firefighters were stationed at most major intersections around the community, diverting traffic away from areas were trees were being cleared and electric transmission work was underway.
One of the largest trees to come down, perhaps, was a mighty evergreen in the front yard of Wendy and Steve Peroza's place on Park Street next to Mark Counter's garage. When the tree fell it pulled up a massive root ball and much of the top came to rest on one of the cars parked at the garage next door, damaging it. When the tree was cut up by the crew of “Those Tree Guys” the next day, the tree's root ball fell back in place- restoring the corner of the Perozas' yard.
The tree missed the house by inches.
One of the local houses damaged by falling trees was the Mike and Eileen Richer residence on Hosley Ave., where large tree limbs crashed through the front porch roof and through second story windows.
by Dan McClelland