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Surveying Leominster’s damage, with faith in city’s resilience

Justin Paxton, right, played guitar as he and a friend sat out on Pleasant Street in Leominster Sept. 13. A sinkhole had opened nearby.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Since the city of Leominster was deluged with up to 11 inches of rain this week, I’ve been shocked by the scope of the widespread devastation. There are sinkholes in front yards, roadways split apart, and businesses reduced to rubble.

My family lives in south Leominster, less than 2 miles from the Meadowbrook Acres mobile home park that was ravaged by flooding.

While our home was not flooded, my wife and I feel great pain for those displaced.

There are a couple of things people should know about Leominster. First, this city of nearly 45,000, while known largely as the “Pioneer Plastics City” and the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed, has a resilient spirit. Second, its first responders are second to none.


More than three decades ago, as a police reporter for the Fitchburg-based Sentinel & Enterprise, I spent my mornings driving to police and fire stations in the area collecting police log information from overnight arrests, accidents, and other incidents. Along the way, I got to know the officers, firefighters, and first responders who dedicated their careers — and sometimes gave their lives — to the region. Today relatives of those public servants are on the front lines of this wretched flooding, bringing families to shelter. The legacy continues.

Now there are roads to mend, bridges to fix, and homes to rebuild. The work will take months. But Leominster and the surrounding communities of the Montachusett region are hardy. And we will be stronger.

Andy Baron