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Evening storm splits trees, downs power lines in Mechanicville

Evening storm splits trees, downs power lines in Mechanicville

City’s Tallmadge Park neighborhood was hit hardest
Evening storm splits trees, downs power lines in Mechanicville
A Mechanicville DPW employee works to clear a tree that landed on a parked car on 3rd Avenue during Wednesday's storm.
Photographer: Peter Barber / Gazette Photographer

A fast -- and ferocious -- storm on Wednesday night knocked down trees and power lines in the Tallmadge Park section of Mechanicville.

Public works and tree maintenance crews remained on the job late into the evening, clearing massive tree limbs from sidewalks and sides of streets.

"We've got multiple trees down in multiple locations," said Anthony Gotti, the city's commissioner of public works, as he stopped his vehicle near the park at about 9:40 p.m.

"The west side got hit the hardest," Gotti added. "We also have a number of snapped and broken telephone poles. We have three or four trees that are on homes, a lot of them on cars. We've got a lot of trees and a lot of debris everywhere. We have multiple homes without power right now."

"But no injuries that I know of, nobody was hurt, nothing like that," Gotti also said.

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Albany said later Wednesday night there was no indication a tornado had caused the damage.

At 7:52 p.m., the weather service had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for southeastern Washington County and northeastern Rensselaer County, as well as for spots in Massachusetts and Vermont.

The Mechanicville area was not on the list.

"It was maybe a 5-to-12 minute episode," Gotti added. "But the winds were so unbelievable strong. There are like six trees uprooted on the back side here [at Tallmadge] that are over a foot thick. Big, big trees."

Gotti also said the city's police officers and firefighters were on the streets quickly and shut down streets where trees and power lines had fallen.

"They were able to keep people from getting hurt, running into downed power lines," he said. "We've got a lot of real low hanging power lines on Grace Street, Spring Street, they're not accessible because of the low lines. They did a phenomenal job getting out here and getting that done for us."

A massive maple tree split in half at the intersection of Grand and Fifth streets and fell on a car and sports utility vehicle parked on the side of Grand.

"We were sitting here and we heard a crack," said Eileen Kivlin of Halfmoon, sitting on the front enclosed porch at the home of friends Jay and Wendy Sullivan, who live at the intersection. "I saw it come, I said 'Oh my God,' and down it came."

"Another two feet and it would have hit the house," said Wendy Sullivan.

"We were out on the back deck and saw the sky to the west getting really, really dark," Kivlin said. "We came in to eat, we ate, after dinner we came out here and it poured, it was coming down in sheets."

Wendy Sullivan remembered the tornado of 1998 that heavily damaged parts of Mechanicville. "We were sitting on the same porch and we were sitting here watching it then, too," she said.

Like others, Joe Sheehan of Grand Street remembered the harsh winds.

"The winds were definitely coming from the west when the storm first blew through," Sheehan said. "After three or four minutes the winds were coming from the other direction."

The sound of chainsaws and small branch-moving trucks were on several streets by 10 p.m. Tim Guyett of Harris Avenue and his four sons used flashlights to walk up Spring Street. They were on their way to a friend's house.

"Power lines down, trees down," said Guyett said of his home street.

He added the boys were not all that worried about the severe weather. "They were just worried about their video games," he said.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]


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