The windows flexed on Vinnie Amodio’s house, his childhood tree bit the dust, and another fallen tree threatened to knock down his power lines, as Hurricane Sandy’s winds picked up and rocked Morris Cove Monday evening.
Amodio, who lives at 1330 Dean St., stayed home to protect his house Monday, in spite of the city’s order to evacuate for Hurricane Sandy.
He ended up with a front-seat view of the fiercest storm he’s ever seen in his 57 years in Morris Cove.
At 5 p.m. Monday, as some firefighters were about to head home, Hurricane Sandy had other plans. The wind suddenly picked up, toppling trees and yanking down power lines across the neighborhood.
Amodio and his wife Julie were at home shortly after 5 when they heard a loud noise.
“It sounded like a plane was going to take off,” Julie Amodio said, “but the airport is closed.”
They looked next door, to Vinnie Amodio’s childhood home, where his mother lives. The wind had sent a tree crashing down, crushing part of the garage roof.
As the wind grew stronger, the Amodios started to worry about the front windows, which overlook the Tweed-New Haven Airport runway.
“The pieces of glass were starting to bend,” Vinnie Amodio said. He got out some duct tape and started making big Xs across the panes. It would have been better to do that in advance of the storm, on the outside of the windows, he conceded. But he wasn’t expecting the storm to be this bad.
As he spoke, his lights dimmed with a large gust of wind, then recovered.
“We’re going to pose power,” Vinnie Amodio predicted.
Two doors down, a large tree had fallen onto power lines. As the wind blew, it yanked on the lines. The live wire rubbed against that tree and another tree, creating small fires that slowly ate away at the branches.
“I’ve never seen it this windy,” Amodio said. The wind is particularly strong because this storm is coming from the Northeast, and because the wind gathers speed across Tweed’s runway. A few doors down, the wind lifted the shingles on a neighbor’s roof. At the end of the street, a stop sign flapped.
Amodio said he chose to stay put, rather than heed evacuation orders, in part to protect the house, and in part to protect his family. He grew up at the house next door, where his mother still lives. Then he built a house of his own next to Mom. His aunt lives on the other side. His mom and aunt refused to leave, he explained. If they lose power, he has a generator that will provide electricity to all three homes.
Amodio said he was sorry to see his mom’s tree go. The same tree, a swamp oak, got cracked in a hurricane in the 1960s, he said. He climbed up the Oak—against his mom’s wishes—and affixed a hose clamp to keep the tree together.
“It finally came down 45 years later,” he said, looking out the window from his kitchen. He and his wife planned to stay home and eat crab cakes while minding their family’s homes.
They didn’t lose power, or suffer any flooding, during Tropical Storm Irene last year, Amodio said.
“This year might be a different story.”
Around the corner, firefighters and public works employees fielded call after call about downed power lines and fallen trees.
Firefighters had hoped to go home after their shifts ended at 3 p.m. But as the winds picked up, they had to stay on longer, awaiting dismissal.
At 5:10 pm. a power line fell down right outside the firehouse at Townsend Avenue, sending sparks form a transformer. Lt. Michael Pozika (pictured) who already had put in a 24-hour shift, picked up the phone to report the problem.
Firefighters stood at the entrance of the firehouse, taking photos of the trees, as they await the OK to go drive home to West Haven and Naugatuck to catch some sleep before their next shift tomorrow.
“It’s no place for humans out there,” remarked one firefighter, who had to hold his hat on to keep it from blowing off.
All had been relatively quiet until the winds suddenly started whipping at double time.
One block away on Concord Street, a tree yanked down power lines, which sat over a Jersey barrier.
Meanwhile, four public works trucks convened across the street at the Krauszer’s market parking lot.
One was full of branches picked up already in the storm. Crews conferred about where to go next. Suddenly, the possibilities were many.