About two weeks after Winter Storm Alfred struck the New England area on Oct. 29, knocking down power lines and trees alike, power has returned to nearly everyone who had been living with no heat or electricity for over a week. Although most of the snow has melted due to recent temperatures in the upper 60s and lower 70s, the lingering effects of the damage from the Nor’easter remain for many in the surrounding area, affecting many members of the SC community.
Professor of Exercise Science and Director of Strength and Conditioning Brian Thompson is among those still dealing with the storm’s aftereffects.
Thompson was at his single-story house with his wife and 9-year-old daughter in Simsbury, Conn. when the storm struck. Like many others in the area, their house lost power at approximately 5 p.m. on Oct. 29, which they did not get back until 9 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Sometime between 12 and 1 a.m., the storm affected more than just their power.
“I was actually sitting in another room watching a movie on my iPad and felt the whole house literally shake,” Thompson said.
Thompson, who has a background as an athletic trainer, said he had been trained to deal with emergency situations, although of a different nature. He used his training and natural instincts and immediately went towards the site where the sound originated from. As he neared his weight room, he smelled pine and felt cold air, which he knew was a bad sign.
What he saw when he entered the room shocked him.
“I had a top of a 150-foot pine tree go through my roof into my workout room,” Thompson said. “So I have two holes where you can see the sky through my roof.”
After sending his wife and daughter to another room, Thompson assessed the damaged weight room, which is located in the back corner of his house, to make sure that it was still structurally sound. After being satisfied, Thompson began the lengthy clean-up process.
“I just started emptying the room and pulled some tarps out of the garage and started covering up the holes,” he said.
From 1 to 3:30 a.m., Thompson relocated materials from the weight room, such as his big screen television, which he jokingly said was his first priority. He also finished sealing the holes with his makeshift covers.
Later that morning, after waking up, Thompson took a trip outside and found that the storm took a heavy toll on several other pieces of the family’s property, including their two sheds.
“One of them I know has pretty significant damage and will probably have to be taken down,” Thompson said. “The other one has a giant limb on top of it.”
Due to the location of his home, in a heavily wooded area set back from the road, fallen trees and branches littered the area. Thompson had to move around 10 large limbs that had fallen because of the weight of the snow that accumulated on them.
When he went to check the mail from the previous day, he discovered yet another casualty of the storm.
“I had to cut a branch to move it to get to the mailbox to get the mail from the previous day,” Thompson said.
Travel was nearly impossible following the storm. Despite having two vehicles with four-wheel drive, Thompson said he could not get out of the driveway. In order to deal with the tree that still remained wedged in the side of his house, Thompson called a friend for assistance.
“I called a friend with a plow, and he had to cut himself out of his driveway, because he had a tree across his driveway,” Thompson said.
After making his way to Thompson’s house, his friend chipped in while Thompson went to work cutting the downed tree out of the side of his house. Thompson had to rely on friends to get immediate assistance since travel was so limited. He said that it was really difficult to get a hold of someone who could actually get to his house.
After being forced to cancel his class on Monday, Thompson resumed his normal schedule on Tuesday. Despite the roads still being littered with debris, Thompson found that his commute took shorter than usual.
“It was actually shorter because there was no traffic,” he said. “I didn’t see any electricity at least until I got off the Interstate and into Springfield. All of Connecticut was dark.”
With his power back, the only thing left for Thompson is to fix the holes that still remain in his house after he deals with insurance. Like many other professors and commuters, Thompson is appreciative just to have heat again and return to his usual routine.
Joe Brown may be reached at email@example.com