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Hit hard by tropical storm, Cheshire homeowners assess damage — ‘I’m glad it’s over’

Hit hard by tropical storm, Cheshire homeowners assess damage — ‘I’m glad it’s over’

reporter photo

CHESHIRE — The Fitzgerald family heard an eerie crackling sound at around 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon.

The sound was the falling and twisting of a massive chestnut tree on the roof of their Nob Hill Road home.

“That was the biggest tree on our property,” Matt Fitzgerald said. “The tree was so big the tree company has to rent a crane.”

The tree remained on the home Wednesday afternoon. Fitzgerald said the damage to the roof will be difficult to assess until the tree is removed.

A maple tree also fell on the house around the same time.

“We were all in the kitchen and we watched it,” Fitzgerald said. “My wife and younger daughter ran away. My son started screaming and my oldest daughter and I ran towards it to see what was happening. It was a lot of crackling.”

The family has lived in Cheshire for 13 years. Fitzgerald and his wife Heather have three children, Taylor, 15, Kaelyn, 13, and James, 8.

“I’m glad it’s over and I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way,” Matt Fitzgerald said. “It’s unnerving how quickly the situation degraded yesterday. We were all pretty nervous. During the storm, I said to my wife, ‘we’re good as long as that chestnut tree doesn’t fall.’ ”

‘We heard it snap’

The Fitzgeralds’ neighbors on Nob Hill Road, the Baileys, also had a tree on their house.

“We had a tree take down a powerline on the house,” Lee Bailey Jr. said. “I was outside watching the wind move things around and trees snapping like nothing. I only have three trees on the property and a 30-inch pine hit the house. I also had two small, thinner maples fall down.”

The pine punctured the roof and ripped a gutter. As of Wednesday afternoon, Bailey hadn’t had an expert assess the situation yet.

“We heard it snap,” Bailey said of the pine. “But we heard snapping all over the place. We were outside on the deck and it fell in the front yard, but you heard something hit the house. That’s why you get insurance.”

Bailey, who works in employee benefits in the insurance business, has lived in Cheshire for all 50 years of his life. He said this storm ranks among the most damaging that have ripped through town in the last half century.

“It’s up there,” Bailey said. “I didn’t expect the wind to be that strong. We were lucky the ground was dry because it could have been worse. But there were trees all over the place. The uncertainty is how long we will be without power. The thought of not having power for a week adds to the stress.”

‘Like a bomb went off’

Over on Contour Drive, Joe Krutz and his family can’t go in his back yard because there are so many tree limbs piled up.

Krutz, who has lived in Cheshire for 25 years, lost power around 2:15 Tuesday afternoon.

“We were here for the two superstorms in 2011 and 2012 and we were out of power for nine days,” Krutz said. “But those were in cool weather. This is going to be hot.”

The Krutzes didn’t sustain any damage to their house or vehicles, but his property is a mess.

“We have two really big trees and our back yard looks like a bomb went off,” Krutz said. “There’s limbs everywhere. It’s comical. Huge tree branches everywhere. I can’t see out of my back porch.”

The two trees remain standing, but their branches were strewn about the Krutzes’ yard. Krutz said he plans on getting what’s left of the trees cut down.

“We are lucky,” Krutz said. “We only lost power. We have friends who had trees fall on their cars and houses. I consider us very lucky.”

Krutz has taught health and physical education at Cheshire High for the past 25 years. He also is an assistant on the Cheshire football and boys lacrosse teams.

“In 2011, we lost a big tree that fell in my neighbor’s pool,” Krutz said. “This is a lot more spread out. But there’s nothing we can do. We need a bucket loader and numerous chainsaws.”

Close call

On Peck Lane, Coleen Bankowski’s massive tulip tree fell down at 3:49 Tuesday. The family was outside recording video of the wind at 3:45 and four minutes later went inside and watched the tree fall. It fell and landed on a tree and remains resting there as the family plans to have it removed.

“The wind was whipping around like crazy,” Bankowski said. “Tops of the trees were swinging back and forth. It tipped over and came up from the roots and everything. We went out right away to look. But it sounded precarious outside and we thought it was best to run back in the house. You could hear trees snapping left and right. We had lost power around 3:30 p.m.”

The Bankowskis, who have lived in Cheshire since 1993, got power back just short of 24 hours later. 

“We were shocked when it fell,” Bankowski said. “If it had fallen in any other direction, it could have fallen down on the middle of the house. We are lucky and we are sorry for those who had more damage.”

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