Hurricane Sandy was nice to Greencastle

By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Kenda Reese, right, buys sandbags in preparation for “Frankenstorm”. She is served by Paula Christy at True Value Hardware. Weather forecasters gave people plenty of time to prepare for the historic storm descending upon the east coast during the week of Halloween.

Tuesday morning was pretty quiet in Greencastle and Antrim Township. It was a relieved ending to the superstorm Hurricane Sandy, which whipped through the northeast portion of the United States in a 900-mile wide swath on Monday night, Oct. 29. The storm reached as far as the Great Lakes, and caused devastation and deaths in the New York City area.

Greencastle weather observer Robert Wertime measured 4.32 inches of rain in the 48-hour period from Sunday to Tuesday morning. Winds peaked at 60 to 65 miles per hour at 11:45 p.m. Monday, with sustaining winds in the 20 to 30 miles per hour range. At the same time, gusts 100 feet above the ground were clocked at 75 miles per hour.

“It was one of the worst storms we’ve had over recorded history, but it’s not the worst,” said Wertime.

The winds were typical of howling March winds. In 1993 Greencastle saw a snow hurricane in mid-March, bringing 17 to 20 inches of “a mixed frozen mess,” he continued.

The hundred-year blizzard in January 1996 also brought things to a halt.

“Those two events were far more serious,” Wertime concluded. “Amazingly, there was very little damage here.”

Other agencies concurred that Greencastle and Antrim fared well. The Rescue Hose Company loaned out its four submersible pumps and hoses and inspected a few properties.

“Knock on wood, we’ve dodged a pretty good bullet,” said RHC administrator Brian Barkdoll. “Other storms have been much worse.”

The borough crews cleared debris from the streets and leaves from stormdrains.

“It appears Greencastle in general was spared significant damage,” said assistant manager Susan Armstrong.

The traffic light at U.S. 11 and Route 16 was only blinking yellow and red  in each direction, respectively, on Tuesday morning, but that was quickly repaired. The turbidity of water at the water plant was up, but was addressed by employees. Armstrong said the lift stations ran fine  and no manholes overflowed. The Carlisle Street sewage pump station filled but did not exceed its capacity.

Antrim Township administrator Brad Graham said there were “no catastrophes”. He was out on the roads most of the night, and his crews came in early to clean them up. There were some reports of flooded basements. Franklin County had told people to contact their local municipalities if they needed sandbags, but did not forewarn Antrim, so the crews quickly assembled them on Monday. They also shared the bags with Greencastle residents. Most of the 60 were taken.

Help was available if needed when Hurricane Sandy was on the way, but no one took up Grace Community Church’s offer as a storm station. Denise Hutchison said several people called and even visited, but did not stay. They said they would make a decision on staying over in late afternoon.

“By that time people were supposed to be off the roads,” she said. “People didn’t believe it would really happen, so they didn’t do anything.”

She and her husband Paul drove around Tuesday in the areas prone to flooding, especially along the Conococheague Creek, to see if anyone needed a place to stay. They would transport them back to the church.

The storm did interfere with travel plans, both of people trying to leave the area, and those trying to get back home. Many east coast airports were closed Sunday through Tuesday, but flights were expected to get back on schedule Wednesday.