Around Town

DPW crew aids in Cape Cod cleanup

A crew of six Westfield Department of Public Works employees volunteer in Yarmouth on Cape Cod after three tornadoes touched down in the area last week. (Photo submitted)

WESTFIELD – A crew from the Department of Public Works is aiding cleanup efforts on Cape Cod after three tornadoes hit the Yarmouth and Harwich areas last week.

DPW Director David Billips said a supervisor from the city arrived on the Cape Wednesday night and another five employees left at 3:30 a.m. Thursday with various tree equipment.

“They brought a bucket truck, wood-chipper and box, dump truck, stump grinder and pick-up trucks,” Billips said, noting that bucket trucks are rarely needed on the Cape.

Crews spent all day Thursday cutting trees and helping with clearing debris and planned to continue today.

“We do this all the time here, but they don’t,” Billips said. “I’d be surprised if there was a bucket truck on the Cape.”

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency put out a call for assistance after tornadoes touched down last week. Westfield’s former Mayor Daniel M. Knapik is Yarmouth’s town administrator and reached out to his friends in Westfield.

Mayor Brian P. Sullivan said when he was asked to help, he did not hesitate.

“We should help any community that needs assistance,” said Sullivan. “We would hope to have the same help if we needed it – and we have.”

Yarmouth Fire crews look through the parts of the roof that blew off the Cape Sands Inn during a morning tornado that touched down on the structure, Tuesday, July 23, 2019, in West Yarmouth, Mass. The National Weather Service said radar showed that a tornado struck Yarmouth just after noon on Tuesday. (Steve Heaslip/The Cape Cod Times via AP)

Billips agreed and said when a tornado tore through Westfield June 1, 2011 – while Knapik was mayor – many communities answered the call for help.

“We had help and we are here to help – that’s what we do as good human beings,” Billips said, adding that other city departments have assisted in other capacities.

Knapik was grateful for help from his hometown.

“We are very pleased to welcome the Westfield crew to Yarmouth,” Knapik said. “They have a lot of storm cleanup experience, they have excellent equipment and we are in need of experienced tree crews and bucket truck operators — and the Westfield guys are the best.”

Knapik said the crew arrived in town by 7 a.m. and went right to work.

“They should be heading home by 11 tomorrow,” he said Thursday. “They will be working on a park and cemetery that were hit hard and their assistance is greatly appreciated by our town. We thank the mayor, director Billips and the citizens of Westfield for assisting with our recovery.”

Billips said everyone, especially the DPW employees, were happy to help.

“I spoke to them and they are doing great,” Billips said of the crew. “I couldn’t be prouder of them for volunteering to do this.”

Billips said Cape Cod received disaster assistance funds and Westfield would be reimbursed for its equipment, employee time and travel expenses.


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