In Wilmington, toppled trees and a sleepless night

WILMINGTON – On Clorinda Road in Wilmington, Jennifer Tassone was awoken at about 3 a.m. by a loud crashing noise like a thunder strike.

She and her husband ran to check on their three children and then went into the family room, where they saw the large double oak tree in their front yard had toppled, its roots ripped from the ground.

The tree had narrowly missed their roof and instead grazed the front gutter of their salmon two-story ranch, cracked the pane of her son’s bedroom window, and fell on the hood of her white minivan.


“We got really, really lucky here because if this went through the roof of the house, we would be been in big trouble,” Tassone said. “I feel lucky. Somebody was watching over us last night.”

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On Monday, Tassone and her three children, along with other neighborhood kids, gathered on the sidewalk and watched a large crane pull the tree up into the air and feed into a giant wood chipper.

“I’m just sad because I lose my shade on this side of the yard in the summertime,” Tassone said with a laugh. “It’s unfortunate but we’re just happy no one is hurt.”

Jim Fitzpatrick, who owns Northeast Tree Inc. in Woburn, said he had deployed 15 trucks, two cranes, and several wood-chippers to handle about 25 trees down in the Reading-Wilmington area. “As fast as we go, more are coming in,” he said. “There’s a lot of damage.”

Still, he said, the storm pales in comparison to hurricanes past, when his crews have had to respond to 100 to 125 trees down.


Gary Bibeau was asleep in the living room of his father’s house when he was suddenly jolted awake at about 1:30 a.m. A large oak, which had stood faithfully in the front yard for more than six decades, had snapped.

“I heard a large crack,’’ Bibeau said Monday. “It got me right up. It was loud, very loud.”

The tree, ripped from its roots, had fallen onto the roof of the Bibeau family’s two-story house on South Street in Wilmington, puncturing a hole through the pink insulation of an upstairs bedroom, breaking the living room window and sending rainwater cascading into the living room.

Gary Bibeau ran to get buckets to catch the rain in the living room, and then called another brother, Art Bibeau Jr., who lives about a mile away, because, when the Fire Department arrived, they told the family to leave in case there was an electrical fire.

“When I got the call at 2:30 in the morning, and I could see it was my father’s house, and he’s 85, I thought the worst,” said Art Bibeau Jr.


“I was grateful that nobody was hurt and everybody was safe.”

The father, Art Bibeau Sr., who is 85 and has owned the house since 1966, was unhurt but shaken by the damage – which came just after a car accident cost him $4,000. On Monday, he was at the insurance office in hopes of guaranteeing that his policy would pay for the tree removal and repairs to his house.

“He’s nervous. He’s a basket case,” ’’ Art Bibeau Jr. said. “He couldn’t sleep when he was over at my house. He said, ‘Oh, this is going to be a mess.’ I tried to calm him down.”

Michael Levenson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.