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    North of Boston residents aid Sandy relief efforts

    Local residents have responded generously to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts since the Oct. 29 storm made landfall along the Northeast coast, killing at least 113 people in the United States and causing billions of dollars in damage.

    Fifty-two Verizon technicians from Massachusetts — including dozens from the company’s Danvers, Methuen, and Dracut garages — left for New York and New Jersey last weekend to help restore phone, Internet, and cable TV service.

    The workers will help replace thousands of broken poles and cables over the next six weeks, returning only for a few days for Thanksgiving before coming home for good on Dec. 21.


    Paul Scovotti of Haverhill and Ed Phaneuf of Tewksbury are two splice service technicians who chose to spend the next six weeks aiding victims of the storm.

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    “I’ve got fellow Americans who are hurting right now, and I was fortunate enough to be able to come down here and lend a hand that was greatly needed,” Phaneuf, who spent the first few days of the trip replacing damaged telephone wires in Brooklyn, said in a telephone interview.

    “We’re trying to help out the people of New York and New Jersey,” said Scovotti, who is also in Brooklyn replacing wires.

    Some of the Verizon techs who left from the company‘s Methuen garage Friday.

    Both men said it would be difficult to spend the stretch of time away from their families, but that the overtime pay was a strong incentive. Phaneuf said he plans to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

    Meanwhile, in Andover, a donation drive has collected more than 30 tons of food, clothing, and critical household items for victims of the storm.


    Diane Dillon, Carlene Alpert, and Lynette Cavanaugh started the Sending Sunshine 2012 campaign and organized volunteers from Andover and surrounding communities to help sort the donations.

    The gifts quickly filled an approximately 28,000-square-foot warehouse space that Mark Harrington of Harrington Moving and Storage has donated temporarily to the campaign.

    “The response has been so overwhelming,” said Alpert, who said she has seen volunteers come from Tewksbury, Wilmington, and Andover. “The spirit behind the community is just breathtaking.”

    Gentle Giant Moving Co. and Bob’s Discount Furniture have donated 450 moving boxes to the campaign and will help deliver the items to New York and New Jersey, Alpert said.

    Liam O'Kennedy can be reached at