Tom Meffen’s daily routine after a hard day at work usually ends with him getting home just after 5 p.m. Had he done this Wednesday night, the outcome could have been a tragedy rather than an anecdote to tell his friends.
As hail, wind and rain pounded most of Massachusetts Wednesday evening, Meffen was still inside the Grog Shoppe, his Hampden liquor store a few minutes away from his home, organizing the stock from a late delivery.
Neighbor Bob Minchella was working from his home office as the wind started to pick up. He told MassLive that the gusts sounded like a train roaring past his house.
At roughly 5:15 p.m. a loud crash reverberated through Minchella home seemingly from his neighbors home.
Peering out his office window that looks out across his and Meffen’s front yard, he saw the large tree in his garden had snapped in two and crashed down, peircing the roof of Meffen’s home.
At 5:22 p.m., Minchella snatched up his cellphone and hastily messaged his friend and neighbor, “Are you home?”
“I don’t leave until the last delivery’s in and was just running late. I knew my wife wasn’t gonna be home until 8 o’clock,” said Meffen. “So, I hung out a little bit longer.”
Meffen informed his neighbor that he was still at his store but should be leaving shortly and inquired as to why Minchella was asking.
“My tree hit your house,” Minchella replied, relieved his friend and neighbor was safe.
“That’ll teach him,” Minchella joked standing outside with Meffen the next morning. “He’s been stealing my acorns for years.”
The tree had not only pierced the roof of Meffen’s house, it had also torn down live power lines that wrapped themselves around broken branches of the tree. Miraculously, only the kitchen and garage were damaged by the downed tree.
“The neighbors all came over and say what do we need, what can we do for you,” said Meffen. “The roof is damaged and the kitchens damaged, but I put the power on.”
Meffen, with the help of his neighbors, cut a path through the broken branches that cover his garden and path to his front door so he could inspect the damage.
“I mean, well, it could be worse. I could have lost my car,” said Meffen, nonchalantly and with a morsel of humor. “If I was running my normal time. I’d be looking for a new car.”
Meffen and his wife stayed in the damaged house overnight and will again on Thursday. Even with the damage to the power lines and the tree coming through the roof, the couple were able to use the heating as well as other electronics due to underground power cables that were unaffected by the storm.
Meffen and his neighbor, Minchella stood outside their homes on Thursday morning surveying the damage from the previous evening. Amidst the jesting, they discuss what the next step should be.
“The fire department doesn’t want you to really go under there now,” Meffen told MassLive.
Meffen said that a crew will be coming on Friday to remove the tree from his home. Because of the size, he said that they will need a crane to remove it to ensure it won’t damage the rest of his home.
Understanding the impact the storm had on the community, there is not a hint of frustration at having to wait from Meffen. He told MassLive that repair crews must have their hands full across Massachusetts and will get to him when they can.
The storm left more than 63,000 homes and businesses without power in Western Massachusetts and more than 211,000 in the dark statewide on Wednesday evening.
Spokesperson for Eversource Reid Lamberty told MassLive on Thursday that they have been able to restore power to 40,000 homes as of 3:30 p.m.
However, over 10,000 homes across Massachusetts are still without power. Over 1,200 people in Springfield.
Extra crews to help with the cleanup have been brought in from New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Lamberty highlighted that most of the work is in Western Massachusetts. Even crews from Canada have been called in to help restore power to communities.
Lamberty said the storm caused 30 roads to be blocked, 70 utility poles knocked over and 12 miles of power lines across Massachusetts pulled down.
Crews have been working since the storm hit and are still on the ground Friday morning.