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Massena residents recovering from storm damage


MASSENA - A long string of humid, sweat-inducing nights was broken up Wednesday evening in Massena, but the change in weather was accompanied by a brief but violent storm that left several trees down in Massena.

Brenda Seguin and Mary Ellen Casselman spent Thursday cleaning up debris around their house on Grove Street at Laurel Avenue, where a large tree was leaning on the front of the house.

No one at the home was injured, but the two women said they, along with three cats, were startled and shaken up by the incident that took place between 8:30 and 9 p.m.

“Mary Ellen was upstairs closing the bedroom window, which is right behind the big tree, when it came down. I was heading in the back door from the gazebo and down it came. It was just like a ‘woosh.’ It wasn’t like a big snap or a bang or anything, just down it came,” Ms. Seguin said.

“I closed the windows and (the trees) came so fast, it just was incredible. I turned around to walk out of the bedroom and I heard this kind of ‘wooshy’ sound and the tree came through the bedroom ceiling. I couldn’t see out the window because the rain was so intense. The rain was coming, by the time I got upstairs to close the window there was a lot of water inside the window when I shut it. I couldn’t see anything out the window,” Ms. Casselman added.

Ms. Seguin works for Alcoa and Ms. Casselman is the town historian. The damage will likely force the two women to find somewhere else to stay for the time being, a situation made even more concerning with their three cats.

“We aren’t really sure yet, we have to find a place for the cats. We have three cats, and we have to place them. My dog is staying at my mom’s house right now. The contractor was talking weeks, more likely two to three weeks. They’re going to take the whole front of the house off now. There will be major structural work for the upstairs,” Ms. Casselman said.

The circumstances could have been even worse for the women, if not for a front room that was added to the side of the house in 2010.

“(Without the room) it would have taken the whole side of the house down. When we walked in from one part to the other part (of the house), it goes straight down because of the weight of it taking it down. Thank God that was there. I’m thinking it would have been a lot worse,” Ms. Seguin said.

On the opposite side of the house from the front room is a new gazebo, which had a large branch crush through the top of it. In an unfortunate sense of irony, the two women had recently been talking about if something were to happen to the gazebo.

“We were sitting in the gazebo the other day talking about it and saying how much we enjoyed it because it was so cool and everything in the evening. Then Brenda said, ‘If anything ever happened to this gazebo, we would definitely get another one.’ And I was like, ‘What could possibly happen to it?’” Ms. Casselman said.

Even for residents without extensive damage, a long day of cleaning up awaited some on Grove Street, including Tim Smith.

“We didn’t get anything in the house, just branches and limbs in the yard came down everywhere. I cut down probably five trees in the last two years since I’ve been here. Thank God, because they were right up against my house and they were trees that were right up to my window, so I got them out of there,” Mr. Smith said.

St. Lawrence County had seen sporadic rain in the last week, but according to meteorologist Andrew Loconto a storm of this strength hadn’t happened since June.

“That was the first really strong storm in a while. I know there was a storm in late June in the Ogdensburg area. It expanded along the St. Lawrence area. From my recollection, there was some damage around the Massena area and Waddington area too. This storm was one of the more significant storms since that one on the 24th of June,” Mr. Loconto said.

Ms. Seguin and Ms. Casselman said that they didn’t lose power during the ordeal, but Massena did have 2,500 without power at its peak Wednesday night. Thanks to the work from the Massena Electric Department though, nearly everyone had their power back by 2 a.m.

“The Massena Electric Department has been very diligent. The Massena Public Works Department; we sent them out last night. I went out there and called additional staff to help. I only have a two man crew at night, so we called for six additional people,” Superintendent of Public Works Hassan A. Fayad said.

“In all, we had 65 locations that we had to respond for some level of problem caused by the trees falling, within our service territory, primarily Massena. The Louisville volunteer fire department and the police were very cooperative. They focused on controlling traffic so we could do electric work They were really helpful,” Massena Electric Department Superintendent Andrew J. McMahon said.

Massena Mayor James F. Hidy said he was also very satisfied with the various departments’ work through the recovery efforts late intothe night.

“Immediately after the storm, our DPW crews were out on the streets; they responded admirably. Our fire department took appropriate actions with down wires, assisting the police department with traffic flow. I’d like to send thanks for the mayor of Potsdam for his offer of assistance. The Massena police department did an outstanding job, and I give thanks to the state police and border patrol as well. I think Massena, the village residents, are well represented in their departments with everyday services, but when it comes to providing emergency services, they’re second to none in the state,” Mr. Hidy said.

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