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Former residents weather eastern storm aftemath

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Workers use chainsaws to cut up a large tree nears homes in Andover, Mass. Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 where it fell into power lines due to Monday's hybrid superstorm Sandy. Sandy caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
"Extremely fortunate and scary."

These are the words former Le Mars native Barb Wernli Collins used Wednesday morning in describing how it was for her and her husband at their home in Lexington, Mass, as they weathered a portion of this week's storm in the East.

Superstorm Sandy slammed into the East Coast earlier this week causing massive destruction including widespread power outages, flooding and numerous deaths.

(Photo contributed) Le Mars natives Barb Wernli Collins and Steve Collins consider themselves "extremely fortunate" in escaping major damage to their home in Lexington, Mass., due to superstorm Sandy, Barb said. Trees were downed and streets flooded in some areas of the community but the Collins did not lose electricity during the storm.
Barb's husband, Steve, is a brother of Cris and Gregg Collins, of Gus Pech Manufacturing, Le Mars.

"We weren't hit as hard here as in some other communities," Barb said. "There are some trees down. Some of the power that was out has been restored in some areas."

She said it's expected to be weeks before power is back on in many areas.

"We feel extremely fortunate," Barb said. "Our lights flickered, but we never lost power."

She credits an extensive power line clean-up in their area earlier this year with preventing major damage to their property.

She said the most recent storm experience was the second for the couple.

The first was but "a northeasterner" a year ago not the extensive "perfect storm" that hit this week, she said.

Barb, an interior designer, and her husband, an engineer with Raytheon Corporation, Andover, Mass., were home when the latest storm hit, she said.

The storm had earlier cut power to the Raytheon site.

"It was scary, very loud," Barb said describing the wind sound in Lexington as like that of the Air Force planes landing at the nearby Hanscom Air Force Base.

Streets in the area were flooded Wednesday morning, she said.

Some neighborhoods remained in "hard to get to" situations Wednesday as clean up had been delayed pending power shut-offs needed for the safety of residents and motorists, Barb said.

The Collins' son, Ryan, living in nearby Waltham, Mass., also escaped major storm damage despite a roof being blown from an apartment building "a few buildings away" from his residence.

Twenty-five families were evacuated from the damaged apartment site, Barb said.

Barb described the normal day Lexington, located northwest of Boston with a population of 31,394, as a "Le Mars-like" place to live.

It is one where "neighbors look out for one another, a very friendly community, Barb said.

"It's been a great place to raise a family," she said.

She'd just returned from being outside Wednesday morning after putting a Halloween jack-o-lantern in front of the house.

She was preparing for children who might trick-or-treater if the weather improved.

Elsewhere in the East, the story was different for Nichole Otondi, her husband, Don, and the couple's three children, William, 8; Milan, 6, and Malia, 2.

Nicole, the daughter of Bill and Rosemary Goebel, of Hinton, was inaccessible by phone, landline or cellpone Wednesday, at the Otondi's residence at Pelham, N. Y., north of Manhattan.

Rosemary Goebel said she had been able to contact Nichole, a computer technology specialist at the United Nations, Tuesday morning.

"At that time she and her husband said that while they were without electricity they were safe and felt they had been fortunate in light of the severity of the storm," she said.

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