Cleanup Efforts Continue Following Powerful Storm, Tornado

Courtesy of the town of Yarmouth.

HYANNIS – Cleanup efforts are underway across Cape Cod after a power storm raged through the southern portion of the region late Tuesday morning and just after noon.

The National Weather Service confirmed tornado touched down in South Yarmouth and Harwich.

A tornado warning expired around 12:45 p.m. as the storm quickly moved offshore.

Bill Simpson, a spokeperson for the National Weather Service’s Boston/Norton office, said the radar definitely indicated a tornado.

“There is extensive damage. We are going to be doing a storm survey later this afternoon,” Simpson said.

The system moved up from Buzzards Bay and ran along the Route 28 corridor through Falmouth, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich and Chatham.

The National Weather Service confirmed a wind gust of 90 mph at Kalmus Beach in Hyannis, a 70 mph gust in Falmouth and 82 mph in Chatham.

There are several reports of downed trees and road closures across the Cape Cod, especially along the Route 28 corridor from Yarmouth through Chatham.

“Ninety miles per hour winds can sure cause a lot of damage,” Simpson said.

More than 52,000 customers across Cape Cod were without power at the height of the storm, including over 10,400 in Harwich, 13,200 in Dennis, more than 8,400 in Yarmouth, 7,900 in Chatham, 3,100 in Orleans, and 3,800 in Brewster.

Some progress was made in the overnight hours, but tens-of-thousands remained in the dark early Wednesday.

Eversource spokesman Reid Lamberty said crews have been deployed to the areas impacted to complete damage assessments and work to get power back on across Cape Cod.

“With a tornado we are going to have downed trees, trees on power lines, potentially utility poles impacted,” Lamberty said. “We are going to get out there to do the damage assessment but simultaneously we’ll get out to get the power back on as quickly and safely as possible.”

Lamberty said people should stay away from downed power lines and report them by calling 911 immediately.

Anyone with questions about power issues or to report an outage should contact Eversource customer service at 800-592-2000.

“Just have some patience,” Lamberty said. “Obviously it is very difficult and we empathize not having power and that can be very challenging.”

Lamberty said all crews are out working and Eversource will deploy additional crews to Cape in waves throughout the day and evening.

The Brooks Free Library in Harwich announced an early opening for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. instead of the normal 10 a.m.

Officials said they have a brand new generator powering the whole building and a great Internet connection through OpenCape that they’d like to share.

Yarmouth Town Administrator Daniel Knapik said the worst conditions from the storm were felt in South Yarmouth in the area near Town Hall close to the Dennis town line.

“We were in a staff meeting at the time and we watched the wind direction change and the debris pick up and swirl and trees go down immediately,” he said. “We evacuated the building into the basement.”

Knapik said the storm then crossed the Bass River and ran across Route 28 into Harwich and Chatham.

“The southerly end of Route 28 in Yarmouth appears to be the area that was hardest hit,” Knapik said.

Yarmouth Fire and Police crews are out responding to several calls.

“Our inspectional services group is out working with some of the hotels that are reporting damage,” Knapik said.

Extensive damage has been reported at the Cape Sands Inn in West Yarmouth. The Inn has sustained extensive roof damage where a portion was ripped off.

A state of emergency has been issued in the town of Harwich.

Town officials have requested that Eversource cut off power to the community.

According to Harwich’s town website, most major roadways are closed and residents are asked to shelter in place.

A conference call was held this afternoon with county, local and state officials to help coordinate a regional response following the major damage.

Kevin Morley, the public information officer with the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee, says the situational awareness continues to build as response efforts continue.

“We were relieved to know that a great deal of resources both from Eversource and MEMA [have been deployed] and are working closely with the Multi-agency Coordination Center here in Barnstable County,” Morley said.

Morley said if you have electric lines tied in with downed trees you can’t just go in there with a chainsaw.

“There is a very careful process that must proceed before road clearing can begin in earnest,” he said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency reports that several agencies are responding to the region, including State Police, the Department of Transportation, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Office of Public Safety and Inspections, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Public Utilities, the Department of Public Health and the American Red Cross.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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