Thunderstorms batter eastern Franklin County, North Quabbin region

  • Wires and debris lay strewn across North Shore Road in Warwick before firefighters cleared the road for passage Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Wendell Road in Warwick was cluttered with debris after severe thunderstorms swept through the area Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Firefighters work to clear Wendell Road in Warwick on Thursday afternoon. Several neighboring departments were called in to help clean up storm damage. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • A fallen tree blocks Quarry Road in Warwick Thursday afternoon after a quick-moving, intense storm swept through the area. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • An uprooted tree on Wendell Road in Warwick on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 7/22/2022 4:54:48 PM
Modified: 7/22/2022 4:54:25 PM

More than 1,000 customers were left without power in the region Thursday afternoon as severe thunderstorms quickly ripped through the area and tore down trees and power lines.

Lasting less than an hour, storms quickly moved through eastern Franklin County and the North Quabbin region, leaving residents in Erving, Wendell, Warwick and Orange without power for a brief part of the afternoon. A tornado warning had also been issued by the National Weather Service, but the warning expired at 4 p.m. with no reports of a twister forming.

The majority of the damage was reported in Warwick, with Fire Chief Joe Larson saying the areas of Wendell Road, the Laurel Lake Campground, Orange Road and Hockanum Road experiencing the most damage.

“It’s gonna be a long process,” Larson said as he stood on Wendell Road, which was covered in debris. Up the street, Quarry Road was blocked by a fallen tree and North Shore Road was strewn with leaves and branches as a power line lay on the side of the road. “It seems we got the brunt of it.”

Larson noted a house and a garage were both struck by falling trees, but no injuries were reported.

As firefighters from Warwick, Northfield, Shutesbury, New Salem and Erving sawed trees and removed other debris from the road shortly after 6 p.m., Larson said he’d expect at “least a couple more hours” of cleanup. The Salvation Army was bringing drinks to relieve firefighters working in the humid conditions.

“We didn’t have enough hands,” Larson said. He added the department was prepared for the storm’s forecast, but weather is unpredictable and there’s always one town that gets hit worse than others.

“You never know what town it’s going to be. We were ready, the chainsaws were ready,” he said.

Other than a multitude of trees and wires on Wendell Road and on other roads throughout the Erving State Forest, Larson said there were no other significant reports of damage.

The two towns with most customers affected by outages were Warwick, with 421 of the town’s 471 customers without power; and Erving, with 398 of the town’s 410 customers without power, according to National Grid’s outage map shortly after 5 p.m.

In Orange, Fire Chief James Young said most of the damage was in the northern part of town. The Highway Department was on scene with National Grid to clear debris.

“Most of the northern section of our town is without power at this point,” Young said at around 4:30 p.m. He added that most of the reports of damage he had heard were from Warwick.

Young said he expected roads to be cleared and power to be back on within a few hours.

“It’s nothing crazy that we can’t handle,” Young said. “We’ll be working over the next few hours to get roads cleared and power back on.”

Erving Fire Chief Philip Wonkka said his crews were clearing blocked roads, but the town had escaped any significant damage. As residents sat outside their homes, National Grid crews were working to restore power to the town. Route 2 was reduced to one lane eastbound, with a westbound detour up the hill on East Prospect Street.

“We had some trees down and roads blocked,” Wonkka said. “They’re in the process of opening them up.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at

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