Storm downs limbs, causes power outages and property damage

ADDISON COUNTY — The wind howled and the rain drummed heavily over the roof at the Davios’ in East Middlebury this past Saturday. The family huddled inside, thinking it safe where it was warm and dry.
That was, until moments later, when the shingles on the roof began to shear off and the rain began to leak into the house.
A thunderstorm rampaged through towns across Addison County on July 23, the dry heat of the previous week giving way to howling winds, thunder and splattering rain. Julys in Vermont are marked by thunderstorms and showers, but this previous weekend’s storm was unusual in the severity of the wind that knocked trees over into houses and power lines, causing power outages throughout the county.
“It was a ferocious storm,” said Dorothy Schnure, spokesperson at Green Mountain Power. “Quick, but ferocious.”
Power outages affected 6,000 GMP customers in Addison County alone, and 32,400 across Vermont. In Addison County, the storm hit Brandon and Salisbury especially hard, and crews and contractors at GMP devoted Saturday night to restoring power in the homes of those affected, according to Schnure.
“Sometimes it’s a quick fix and we just need to reset the fuse,” Schnure said. “Sometimes a huge maple tree falls on the power line. We spent Saturday night working on taking down trees, stringing new wires and putting up new utility poles.”
GMP hired contractors in addition to regular crew members to respond to the needs of their customers in a timely fashion. The company had as many as 500 people in the field working to restore power on Saturday night, prioritizing areas that affected the largest amount of customers.
The company’s efforts to restore power to its customers affected by the storm continued into Sunday night, rounding up more time-intensive efforts as well as efforts in more sparsely populated areas.
While the storm hit communities across Addison County late Saturday afternoon, the severity of damages ranged widely. Trees fell across houses, the wind tore roofs apart and power outages reportedly caused smoke to rise from computers at the Middlebury College Armstrong Library, but many areas and residences emerged, thankfully, only minimally scathed.
“The storm created a mess in the yard and took pots of flowers and dumped them into the swimming pool,” said Peggy Peabody of East Middlebury. “There’s an old tree in the yard that we thought would fall over, but it didn’t. The storm just took all the debris from everyone else and put it into our yard.”
A tree fell across Mead Lane near Quarry Road in Middlebury during the storm. It took out power to at least one house and blocked traffic until it was cleared away on Monday.
In the town of Brandon, the downtown area also saw minimal damage despite the volume of power outages. According to GMP, Brandon was hit hardest by the storm, with 145 Brandon residences losing power for four to five hours, but the town only saw a couple of fallen trees as collateral damage.
The town government did not have to close any roads. While there was a larger tree that required a full crew to clean up, the town’s public works department cleaned up the rest of the fallen trees in a matter of a few hours.
“It’s business as usual,” said David Atherton, Brandon’s town manager.
“We’re Vermonters, we can handle it,” he added with a laugh.
Even in cases of minimally perceived damage, it is important to keep in mind safety during storms and their aftermath. GMP’s Schnure urges community members to remember that power lines could still be conducting electricity even when they are down or are tangled in trees.
“Even if a tree has taken down a power line, it can still be dangerous,” she said. “(The public) needs to stay away until a crew arrives to the scene to handle the situation.”

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