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Tree downed by storm crashes into Schenectady living room

Friday, May 31, 2013
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Frank Impellizzeri, left, and Jack Cummins, look at the tree that destroyed Impellizzeri's house at 345 Perry St., in Schenectady.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Frank Impellizzeri, left, and Jack Cummins, look at the tree that destroyed Impellizzeri's house at 345 Perry St., in Schenectady.

— A glass cabinet filled with delicate items given to Sue Impellizzeri over multiple decades stood unscathed in the corner of the family’s living room on Friday afternoon.

The untouched cabinet highlighted the randomness of the storm that tore through the Capital Region Wednesday evening, leaving a path of destruction that didn’t offer much rhyme or reason. While the cabinet had been spared, the rest of the living room showed the scars of the tree that fell on the family’s Perry Street home.

The living room where Sue and Frank Impellizzeri raised three children over more than three decades is now filled with wood beams from the ceiling and insulation covering the ground like a gray snowstorm. A family car and the garage were also crushed by the tree, which came down a little before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Frank Impellizzeri, 61, was in the basement Wednesday finishing up laundry when the storm came through his Bellevue neighborhood. The only notice he had that something was wrong was an alarm from his phone, alerting him to the tornado notice.

“Within five seconds I heard this big explosion,” he said Friday afternoon.

When he came out of the basement, Impellizzeri said, “I thought the kitchen was on fire because there was smoke all over the place.”

After failing multiple times to reach his wife, who was at work during the storm, Frank got in touch with his daughter, who showed up at the house with her fiancé a few minutes after the storm passed. “We had to kick the front door down … and they just kind of dragged me out of the house,” Impellizzeri recounted.

The damage to the house resulted in the city condemning the structure, which has the Impellizzeris weighing all of their options as they wait for their insurance company to tell them what will be covered. They’re currently staying in a hotel and moving anything from the house that can be saved into storage.

“We’ll probably end up knocking it down,” Impellizzeri speculated.

He and his wife might move, but if they do rebuild, he said, it will be closer to the street. The house is currently set back more than 30 feet from the road. Ultimately, the decision isn’t up to him, Impellizzeri said: “I will have to see what my wife will say.”

Despite the damage to the house, it could have been much worse. Impellizzeri said he usually spends a lot of time in the living room. His son, 35-year-old Jason Impellizzeri, concurred.

Jason was wearing a paper mask over his mouth Friday as he sorted through the remains of the living room, using a small shovel to go through the piles of insulation in search of missing items that might have fallen off of the walls.

Frank Impellizzeri said most of the items can be easily replaced, but he’s hoping they can salvage sentimental items. “You can’t replace that stuff,” he said.

For the most part, almost all of the National Grid customers in the Capital Region who lost power Wednesday have had power restored.

National Grid spokesman Patrick Stella said the utility responded to about 4,000 customers Friday. Damage included a mix of pole replacement and removing trees and other debris from power lines.

Some of the damage, Stella said, was off-road and required crews to build temporary roadways. He noted one spot in Rotterdam where they had to lay down wood planks for crews to get to a problem a half-mile off the road.

Stella added that National Grid is already watching out for the next storm, which could hit the area Sunday.

Also accomplished Friday was the re-opening of the Erie Canal, which was closed from Niskayuna to western New York on Thursday. Mariners were cautioned that they should travel carefully.

Special cleanups are being offered by some municipalities affected by the storm. On Monday, Niskayuna and Clifton Park will begin curbside pickup of tree and brush debris caused by the storms.

Residents should check with their local government to find out what cleanup plans are scheduled for the near future. In some cases, pickups could take a couple weeks and are only for specific neighborhoods.

 
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comments

June 1, 2013
5:48 p.m.
ChuckD says...

A simple post to an online newssite can't come close to expressing our gratitude to all on the front lines of this event. But a heart-felt "well done" to all who kept the peace, fixed the damage, healed the wounds. Thanks to you all.

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