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Irene’s Affects Lingered

Downed trees, the results of Irene's inches of rain and strong winds, threatened electrical poles all through Milford similar to this leaning pole on Clarridge Circle. Harry Platcow photo

Hurricane Irene may have weakened to a tropical storm when it hit Massachusetts on August 28, but it still packed a punch as it swept through Milford, leaving dozens of downed trees and an estimated 5,000 homes and businesses without power, some for as long as a week.

Fire Chief John Touhey – who doubles as the town's Emergency Management director – said 5,000 homes and businesses were affected by power outages at the height of the storm, with that number down to 1,100 by the following Thursday. National Grid officials had four crews in town and were striving to get most of the power restored by last weekend, he said.

The town's emergency shelter at Milford High School did not need to be activated and that building never lost power, Touhey said. While Milford Town Hall on one side of Main Street had power, the Spruce Street fire station across the street, plus the nearby Milford Youth Center on Pearl Street, the Milford Town Library and Stacy Middle School all lost power for several days, he said. All Milford Water Company customers had water service, Touhey added.

The only problem encountered in the storm's aftermath was a build-up of carbon monoxide from a generator left running overnight at Cousin's Pizza on Main Street. The building had to be thoroughly ventilated the next day, Touhey said.

Both the Police and Fire departments and the public safety dispatch area were staffed up to meet any demands caused by Irene, Touhey explained.

Highway Surveyor Scott Crisafulli also staffed up his department to handle anticipated problems. There were no flooded areas, Crisafulli said, but his crews dealt with many fallen trees and branches that blocked roadways. Several trees ended up on or very near buildings including the North Purchase District School built in 1832.

Crisafulli opened his department's brush dump on Asylum Street during the week after Irene for residents to dispose of tree limbs and braches that came down on their properties during the storm. His department will not be picking up the storm's debris at curbside, he said.

As the power outages lingered, it became "the best of times and the worst of times" for area restaurants. Those with power did a thriving business while those without – such as Pinz on South Main Street – did not. Pinz owner David Breen estimated he had to throw out $15,000 worth of food that spoiled during the four days he was forced to remain closed.

Tropical Storm Irene caused significant tree damage in Milford including this large specimen that fell on the North Purchase District School built in 1832. Anne Lamontagne of the Milford Historical Commission said the building will be inspected and a plan of action to take care of any damage will be discussed. Harry Platcow photo


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