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North Shore cleans up from wind-driven storm

Tree ripped out of the ground on Vernon Street in Nahant.

Tree ripped out of the ground on Vernon Street in Nahant.

(Photo by Jim Wilson)

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Telephone pole sways in Swampscott

Quintin Bowler of Swampscott walks down Humphrey Street near a telephone pole that was partially pulled from the ground when a tree fell on top of the wires.

(Photo by Jim Wilson)

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Tree down

(Photo by Jim Wilson)

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Boat washes ashore

Larry Brogna of Swampscott at his boat that washed ashore at the Swampscott/Lynn line.

(Photo by Jim Wilson)

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Storm damage

Malcolm Knapp cleans up his lawn after branches fell from a tree on his property in Lynnfield on Thursday afternoon.

(Photo by Olivia Falcigno)

A fierce Nor’easter that some meteorologists labeled a “bombogenesis,” or “bomb cyclone,” swept into the region Wednesday night and early Thursday with 70 mph wind gusts, cutting a swath of destruction throughout the North Shore.

Lynn and Swampscott were particularly hit hard, both in terms of power outages, felled trees, damaged property and flooding in low-lying areas. And one community (Lynnfield) called off school for the day.

In Lynn, 172 trees or limbs were downed, and nearly 2,060 residents were without power as of 3 p.m., the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said. And in Swampscott, 20 trees throughout the town came down, leaving 772 customers without power as of 3 p.m., according to MEMA.  Among those who lost power early, around 2:30 a.m Thursday, was Gov. Charlie Baker, who said the outage was brief. He also told the Boston Globe that the Linden tree in his backyard remained upright. 

In Lynn, Andrew Hall, commissioner of the Department of Public Works, said “(the storm) came on hard. We were expecting a wind storm, but it was more intense than forecasted.”

It will take several days to clean up the damage, Hall said, mainly because wires will need to be de-energized before trees can be cut down.

A section of Myrtle Street was shut down because of a live wire that was taken down by a tree.

In areas of Ward 6, flooding occurred in low-lying areas, including on Bennett and Commercial Streets. St. Michael’s Hall had flooding in its basement, Lynn Ward 6 Councilor Fred Hogan said.

“All you can do in that situation is to make sure people are all right,” he said. “By now (3 p.m.) most of these situations are resolved.”

The DPW has been working to clear downed trees and other storm damage on roads, said Fire Department Capt. Joseph Zukas, and residents reported leaky roofs. 

“As we get more rain, some of the limbs and trees could come down,” he said. “It’s not over yet. We’re still getting reports of wind conditions for later today.”

Hall cautioned residents to call National Grid for help with downed wires at 1-800-322-3223. To report power outages, call 1-800-465-1212.

In Swampscott, a portion of Humphrey Street was shut down after a tree fell on Commonwealth Avenue, taking power lines down with it. The road closure was a matter of safety, said a Swampscott police officer on detail, as they did not want cars driving under the live wires.

Trees also fell onto at least six cars in the town.

“We do have a large tree that fell from our neighbor’s yard and is blocking our driveway,” said Colleen Toner, a Lynn real estate broker who lives off Puritan Road. “It has live wires on one of our cars so we are patiently waiting for National Grid. I’m sure many people have it much worse than us and we are grateful that no one was hurt and there is no damage. It is a forced stay-at-home day, and an inconvenience of course, but we are New Englanders.”

Longtime Plymouth Avenue resident Wendy Conaty said she was in shock when she opened her door at 6 a.m. on Thursday. She said that she and her husband Jim were in a rush to drive him to the airport for a flight to Korea when she saw her driveway blocked by a large fallen tree.

Then, she said, her husband saw his beloved 2014 Mustang under the tree, with a crashed-in roof, smashed windows, and flat tires.

“He is in love with that car,” she said. “I thought he was going to cry when he came out and saw it completely totaled… My car was blocked by the tree so I had to use his old music van to get him to the airport. The tree also knocked out a headlight on that van.”

A power line was also knocked down on her house, she said. As of 2:30 p.m., her home at 68 Plymouth Ave. was still without power and heat, she said. The town sent workers to her home to break down the tree and get it off of the Mustang.

“I have to give the town credit for getting here and getting rid of this tree,” she said. 

Cresta said tree damage was town-wide.

“We were lucky in a sense,” he said. “We got called out at midnight. One of our DPW guys was pulling out of our lot and a branch went right through his windshield while he was sitting in the driver’s seat. It scared him, but he’s alright.”

The storm surge also dragged a boat from where it had been moored to the Swampscott side of Kings Beach.

Saugus reported several felled trees, but very little in the way of property damage, said Town Manager Scott Crabtree. 

However, MEMA reported 306 homes were still without power as of 3 p.m. 

Crabtree said outside contractors had to be called into the town to help the Public Works Department clean up.

Police in Nahant also reported very little in the way of downed trees or property damage. But one tree on Vernon Street was uprooted and lying on its side. 

MEMA reported 27 homes without power as of 3 p.m.

In Peabody, Chris Ryder, Mayor Edward Bettencourt Jr.’s chief of staff, said there have been scattered power outages in the city, including Presidential Heights in West Peabody. 

There are some downed limbs and wires, and debris citywide. Work crews are doing their best, he said, to clean it up by the evening commute.

Charles Orphanos, manager of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant, the city’s electric utility, said a downed tree at Lowell Street and McKinley Road disrupted power to 1,300 customers at about 9 a.m. Thursday from Herrick Street to the Big Y. 

“We lost a major circuit and that caused outages for lots of customers,” he said.

But by 10 a.m., power had been restored to 95 percent of those customers, Orphanos said. The remaining 65 customers are expected to have their power back by dusk, he said. 

Orphanos said 20 sections of the city still have two or three homes without power, but those are expected to be restored soon. 

In Lynnfield, Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay closed schools following reports of power outages and fallen trees.

Crews worked to clear streets and restore power, according to a notice sent to residents.

The storm also affected commuter rail service on the Newburyport/Rockport line. Crews worked to repair damage throughout the day and commuters experienced severe delays due to downed trees in the Lynn area, according to the MBTA.

Item reporters Steve Krause and Thomas Grillo also worked on this story.

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