Metro

Hundreds of trees were knocked down by Friday’s powerful nor’easter

Arnold Arboretum staffers Monday rushed to preserve the germplasm of 22 trees felled by 50 mile an hour winds and 2 inches of rain. In Mansfield, authorities said some 300 trees are down, including five that smashed into moving cars during Friday’s powerful nor’easter.

In Whitman, Fire Chief Timothy J. Grenno said all roads are now open in his South Shore town where firefighters responded to some 150 nor’easter related calls, most of them reporting an uprooted tree or damage from the fall of a large branch.

“I couldn’t even begin to guess the amount of tree damage,’’ said Grenno, adding that a home on Commercial Street was ordered to be demolished after it was speared by a tree this weekend. “We have significant tree damage.”

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While coastal communities like Scituate routinely face weather-related flooding problems, the storm brought powerful winds that persisted at 50 miles and 60 miles an hour, creating a jumble of downed power lines and broken trees from the coast and into Easton and other inland communities.

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The full extent of the storm’s power - the number of houses partially or wholly damaged, the number of vehicles crushed or split in two, the number of public buildings ravaged by the storm - has not yet been tallied in most Massachusetts communities.

According to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, a detailed accounting will have to be undertaken in the near future to thoroughly document the damage if the residences or governments seek out financial aid from the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

A Duxbury town employee removed a fallen tree in front of the Duxbury High school.
David L Ryan/Globe Staff
A Duxbury town employee removed a fallen tree in front of the Duxbury High school.

Easton Town Manager Connor Read said the “tree damage is quite incredible” especially along Bay Road, a winding street lined with treed lots that bisects the town. “Trees have damaged power lines, trees have hit people’s homes and crushed people’s cars,’’ he said.

The situation is different at the Arnold Arboretum where every single tree is not only known, but it can be located on an interactive map at the Boston institution’s website. A survey of damage at first identified more than 30 trees that had suffered major damage, but a closer review narrowed the fatally damaged count to 22 trees, according to the arboretum, a Harvard University landmark.

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“Two painful losses for arboretum staff are beloved centenarian accessions of dragon spruce (Picea asperata) and Wilson spruce (Picea wilsonii), collected by famed arboretum plant explorers Ernest Henry Wilson and William Purdom, respectively, on separate expeditions to China in 1910,’’ the arboretum staff wrote in a statement.

Some 20 trees will have to be removed, and those damaged were primarily pine, spruce, fir, and hemlock, according to the staff at the Jamaica Plain institution. Staffers will collect germplasm to grow successor trees, all of which have been heavily documented by staff before the storm.

The arboretum credited diligent preventative care such as pruning and removing deadwood as one reason for the relatively low number of damaged trees on the 281-acre property.

But most property owners - public or private - are not as focused on tree care, and for town officials like Grenno, the snowstorm predicted by the National Weather Service for Wednesday into Thursday is a cause of major worry.

“We have had a ton of trees that didn’t go over but have been severely weakened,” he said. “We are trying to identify the most critical, and are trying to get them down before the storm comes.

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He added: “I am very concerned.”

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe