New England

Eversource Crew Returns to Brookfield One Year After Destructive Macroburst

Homeowners in hard-hit communities lost power for several days following the May 15, 2018 tornadoes and thunderstorms.

The neighborhoods by Candlewood Lake in Brookfield looked more like a war zone after being in the path of a powerful macroburst.

“A year ago you, probably couldn’t even drive down here much less see a lot of the houses, they were covered with trees and wires down and poles down everywhere,” said Rosemarie Benelli, an overhead line supervisor for Eversource based in the Newtown area.

For 10 days following the May 15 storms, Benelli helped supervise power restoration efforts in Brookfield.

“I have never seen this amount of damage," she said, "especially in such a small concentrated area.”

Sections of the system had to be entirely rebuilt, Benelli said.

It was all hands on deck, with Eversource crews and contractors from across New England and the country coming to help.

"People from all over the company, the assessors that ride down the street and write down how many poles we need, what size, how much wire how many cross arms,” Eversource Operations Senior Supervisor George Escobar explained.

In his 35 years with Evesource, Escobar said the devastation from a year ago rivals what he saw after Sandy in 2012.

“Always hurricane season you kind of brace for it," he said, "but now its any time of the year we have nor’easters and then we have microbursts or tornadoes like we did in this case.”

Given the distance of the powerful downburst that came across the lake, the National Weather Service determined that a macroburst caused the extensive damage in the Brookfield community.

“It looked like God used the sickle and took the tree tops off,” Escobar said.

A falling tree came crashing down on Paula Pascoa's home, leading to a close call for her daughter.

“It was right here that the ceiling fell on her but she’s OK,” Pascoa said, pointing up to her repaired living room ceiling.

Pascoa had been living in the home for less than four months when she was forced to relocate to a short-term rental.

“You had to be on top of it," she said, "you really had to be on top of what was going on.”

Pascoa said she paid out of pocket to have large trees removed from her backyard, but insurance helped cover the cost to repair the damage to the house.

"The house is getting back to normal," she said, "better than normal so we’re doing well.”

Pascoa said she thanks the utility crews that worked tireless to turn the power back on.

“They did a great job," she said, "they were here day and night and did what they had to do to get things back.”

For Eversource employees, it is satisfying to see what the neighborhood looks like one year later.

"It’s good to see that the work is done and they’re back up and running," Escobar said. "They did a great job here.”

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