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    Cape Cod residents spend night at shelters as outages persist

    Jesse Brown helped his mother, Claire Brown, with her coat as she got ready to leave the warming center at Cape Cod Technical High School, where she spent the night.
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Jesse Brown helped his mother, Claire Brown, with her coat as she got ready to leave the warming center at Cape Cod Technical High School, where she spent the night.

    Trees fell on homes in Marshfield, Foxborough, Easton, Freetown, Mattapoisett, and Duxbury. Traffic signals stopped working in Sandwich and Orleans, and downed wires and tree limbs made roadways impassable in many cities and towns.

    Mother Nature’s wrath and power outages combined to make daily living a challenge in some communities across Massachusetts Wednesday. By 8:17 p.m., more than 80,000 utility customers were still without power in the state.

    On Martha’s Vineyard, the entire town of Aquinnah lost electricity, but by Wednesday night, all but five customers had power restored.


    Orleans Fire Chief Anthony Pike said approximately 80 percent of the town was without power Wednesday morning.

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    Pike said his department received “an incredible amount” of calls as a result of Tuesday’s storm. A plow truck caught on fire, and there were many reports of downed wires, he said. He said he expected to receive more reports of downed wires as people continue digging out from the storm.

    “Once the sun comes out, people venture out,” he said. “Any wires on the ground should be treated as if they’re live.”

    Eversource reported that 2,697 customers (40 percent) in Orleans were without power Wednesday night.

    Pike said the regional shelter at Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich was open for residents who need a place to warm up. The Barnstable County Regional Emergency Planning Committee also opened two other emergency regional shelters — at Sandwich High School and Barnstable Intermediate School — Tuesday evening. Committee spokesman Kevin Morley said 152 people spent the night at the three shelters. Several pets did, too.


    In Sandwich, Eversource reported that 5,627 (51 percent) of their customers were still without power Wednesday night. Fire Chief William C. Carrico II said his department received multiple reports of downed trees and wires, a building fire, a car crash, and medical emergencies (a man injured his hand in a snow blower; another man hit his ankle with an axe), as well as calls related to high carbon monoxide levels caused by generators.

    “It’s been very busy for us,” he said.

    In Falmouth, the Police Department received more than 275 reports of downed trees and wires, and several roads had to be closed.

    The situation was similar in Carver. “We had many trees down and many roads blocked,” said Thomas M. Walsh, the town’s emergency management director.

    At one point, 76 percent of the town didn’t have electricity, Walsh said. By Wednesday night, it was down to 15 percent.


    Walsh said the high school was opened as an emergency shelter Tuesday morning, and 18 people spent the night there. “We still have people there today,” Walsh said earlier Wednesday.

    In Yarmouth, the situation was a little better. Most traffic signals in town were working Wednesday morning, Deputy Police Chief Steven G. Xiarhos said.

    By Wednesday night, there were 887 (5 percent) Eversource customers in Yarmouth without power.

    In addition to the regional emergency shelters, the Yarmouth Senior Center was opened as a warming center and place to charge electronic devices, he said. Xiarhos said road conditions are “much better,” and main roads are in “great shape.”

    The Harwich Police Department reported that several telephone poles had snapped and took power lines down on Route 28. Earlier Wednesday, police said most of Harwich and all of Chatham were without power.

    As of Wednesday night, 6,727 residents (60 percent) were without power in Harwich and 1,421 Chatham residents (17 percent) were still without power.

    Police and fire departments all over the state used social media to share photos and videos of treacherous conditions during the storm and the damage that the nor’easter caused.

    The Raynham Police Department posted photos of a car that collided with a plow truck (the vehicle was damaged, but there were no injuries); in Duxbury, the Fire Department posted a photo of a downed wire that sparked a fire in the branches of a tree on Saint George Street; and the Orleans Police Department posted a video of arcing wires on Route 28.

    In Dennis, firefighters responding to a downed power line noticed a garage on fire at 17 Lone Tree Road just after 3 a.m. Wednesday.

    The fire had spread to the homeowner’s pickup truck that was parked in the driveway and an adjacent garage at 21 Lone Tree Road, fire officials said.

    Dennis fire officials said the fire was caused by a generator that was being used to power the house during the outage. The fire was extinguished quickly, and there were no injuries.

    As of 8:17 p.m. Wednesday, there were 84,140 customers in Massachusetts without power, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s outage map.

    Michael Durand, a spokesman for Eversource, in an e-mail said: “Given the damage we’re facing, we’re advising customers that this will be a multiple-day restoration.

    Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.