High winds batter Wareham causing widespread damage

Oct 30, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Wareham Department of Natural Resources Officer Josh Kimball stands on a dock amid heavy wind and waves Monday morning.

Wareham residents woke up to widespread damage Monday after howling winds ripped up trees, downed power lines and knocked out power to more than 4,700 homes.

The storm started late Sunday and brought winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour across the South Coast. In some parts of the state, gusts exceeded 90 miles per hour.

In Wareham, Municipal Maintenance crews worked all day clearing downed limbs from roads while Eversource crews restored power. At the height of the power outage, 33 percent of Wareham customers were without electricity. As of 1 a.m. Tuesday, 1,300 homes were without power, or 9 percent of the town.

Schools closed due to the storm as roads blocked by trees and power lines, including Cranberry Highway from Lindsey's Restaurant to Redbrook Road, made travel difficult.

The Wareham Fire Department had 28 people responding to the storm, said Captain Mark Rogers. They assisted with life safety, preventing property damage and responded to fire hazards.

“This was one of the most unexpected storms of the season,” Rogers said. “This is the first time something snuck up on us like this.”

The department got around 35 storm-related calls throughout the day, including for large fallen trees and fallen wires.

No one was hurt in the fire department’s operations.

“We’re here 24 hours a day,” Rogers said. “The unexpected happens and we’re here to help.”

Onset Fire Chief Ray Goodwin said his department responded to 29 calls over the course of 14 hours during the storm.

The calls started in a flurry just past 3 a.m. when “all hell broke loose,” said Goodwin. At that time, a utility pole fell across the road in front of Dollar General on Cranberry Highway, blocking traffic. Soon after, a large oak tree fell across Onset Avenue near Bay Pointe Drive. Multiple electrical wires were also downed during that period, he said. Goodwin said no firefighters were injured during the response.

Heavy surf accompanied the wind, which caused a concrete dock at Onset Pier to break away. It ended up on shore alongside two small boats.

"This is the worst I've ever seen," said Wareham Department of Natural Resources Director Garry Buckminster, referring to the wind, which was still heavy late Monday morning. Buckminster, who has been with the department since 1995, said he called officers in to work at 2 a.m. to monitor the situation. He noted that a few dinghies had capsized.

In the Swifts Beach community, a few neighbors without power gathered outside Monday morning, pointing out pieces of siding in the road and trying to guess which homes they came from. There were hanging wires in the street and fallen branches.

Warren Hall, who lives on Shore Road, said his power was flickering on and off Sunday night while he was watching the World Series. Power in the area went off fully at around 5 a.m. Monday, said Joseph Morrison, a local electrician.

"I'm sure the phone will be ringing all day," Morrison said.

Mike Ponte, owner of Pontiac Tree Services in Wareham, said he got around 45 calls on Monday with requests for tree removal.

Ponte said it's the biggest storm he's seen in the area "without being called a hurricane."

Some took the storm in stride, including Susan Grebber of Wareham who went about her daily routine of feeding seagulls at Little Harbor Beach. With a forceful wind at her back whipping up an ocean spray, she tossed slices of bread to the birds.

"I do this every day," she said.

Comments (4)
Posted by: cranky pants | Oct 30, 2017 19:49

Gotta hand it to our first responders and the power crews, they were out straight all night and throughout the entire day. I think my scanner got more of a workout today than it did all summer. Trees down across major roadways, powerlines live and running across vehicles... Busy day.

Kudos to the men and women that worked hard to keep our community safe, thank you all.

Posted by: WWareham resident | Oct 31, 2017 08:07

We are still without power in West Wareham and after calling Eversource they said there are still a few hundred homes in Wareham without power and they have no ETA on restoration of services.


Power crews did a lot yesterday and first responders are always on top of their game but I work from home and with no power or internet I'm stuck. Praying power is restored soon...

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Oct 31, 2017 11:39

No generator?

Posted by: WWareham resident | Nov 01, 2017 06:50

Of course I have a generator but I don't pay Eversource almost $200 a month to have to run a generator. I was told that the major issues over here were taken care of after the 2015 winter when we lost power for over 8 days although that wind was wicked and trees were down on Papermill and both to the left and right of Main St & Papermill. I got out Monday by driving under a tree on Main Street that was hanging on power lines. Not the smartest move but had jury duty so I took the chance.

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