Chris Gorski points out the damage to his 135 Reservoir Road home in New Hartford on Wednesday. Gorski was the only one home when strong winds caused a large pine tree to fall on his family's home causing serious damage. Kristen Domonell Republican-American.
By Kristen Domonell and Alec Johnson
Chris Gorski had heard gusty winds all night outside his New Hartford home, and then, about 6:45 a.m., heard what he thought was a loud thunderclap.
He opened his bedroom door to smell of pine, and found a massive old pine tree had snapped at the base and toppled onto his New Hartford home.
The tree, about two feet wide and at least 60 feet tall, smashed into a guest bedroom, the same room his brother-in-law had just moved out of Sunday after living there for two years, said Gorski, 40, of 135 Reservoir Road.
It was one of the more dramatic and damaging troubles Wednesday as winds gusted up to 50 miles per hour across Northwest Connecticut. In Cornwall, a downed tree on Dibble Hill Road forced the road to be closed and took out power for several hours. The wind proved a concern a nearby house fire in Cornwall, where firefighters worried the high winds would feed and carry the flames. They were able to successfully stop the fire and limit the damage.
In Torrington, north end residents lost power when a tree on Winsted Road downed wires at 6:45 a.m. About 2,200 customers were without power for much of the day, confirmed Mitch Gross, a spokesman for Connecticut Light & Power. Power was restored about 3:30 p.m.
In New Hartford, Gorski was glad his wife and two daughters were out of town for the holiday. "Nobody was in the room, so as far as I'm concerned, it's all going to get fixed and it's going to be OK," he said.
Inside the one-story home, branches stuck through the living room ceiling. Insulation and pine needles covered the bed in the guest bedroom, and a pale blue curtain sat in a heap at the base of a shattered window.
John Porcelli, the town's building inspector, said after the tree is removed, a contractor will have to make the house weathertight before the family can return to their home and repairs can begin. The electricity will be rerouted into the home from a temporary electrical pole because the electricity enters the home near where the tree struck. It will be a couple days before power is restored. He said there appears to be major structural damage to the heating, plumbing and ventilating systems.
Gorski said he will stay with his sister in Harwinton until his family returns and they can figure out what to do next.
Carl Jacobs, 78, lives on Meadow Street and is Gorski's neighbor through woods between their houses. A retired plumber and friend of the family, Jacobs came to help drain the radiators and lend support.
"At one time they were talking about taking this tree down," Jacobs said, lamenting that the family had just had new siding and windows put on the home, some of which were destroyed by the fallen tree.
Meteorologist John J. Bagioni, owner of Fax Alert Weather Service in Burlington, said it was so windy Wednesday because the area was stuck between a high pressure system to the west and a low pressure system to the north. "Wind is always a function of pressure differences across the region," he said. "The air moves because somewhere it is being pushed down and somewhere else it is being pushed up."
"We are right in the way," he said. "The air goes rushing by us to get off the ground."
Wednesday night, the wind had subsided, and Bagioni said today will start being bright, sunny and cold. The day will cloud up in the afternoon with a chance of rain in the evening. "There could be some slippery spots in Litchfield County," he said, noting the chance for freezing rain.
- Jim Moore contributed to this report.
Originally appeared Nov. 25, 2010 in the Republican-American.