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Standing guard after Hurricane Sandy

  • New England Traffic Control officers Ray Bernier and E.T. Bates spent more than six hours on Old Turnpike Road in Antrim on Tuesday, directing traffic away from the road, closed due to a tree blown into the electrical wires by the high winds produced by Hurricane Sandy Monday night.
  • A downed tree on Old Turnpike Road in Antrim closed the road for most of the day on Tuesday following Hurricane Sandy.
  • E.T. Bates, of New England Traffic Control, front, guards a blocked-off portion of Old Turnpike Road in Antrim on Tuesday afternoon, while waiting for a crew to clear the tree and repair the power lines.
  • Ray Bernier, left and E.T. Bates, right, diverted traffic away from a tree downed on Old Turnpike Road in Antrim by Hurricane Sandy, that was kept from falling to into the road by live electrical wires.

ANTRIM — On Old Turnpike Road, there is one stretch of road that was particularly eye-catching on Tuesday. First, there is a large tree sitting at a jaunty angle across the road propped up by telephone and electrical wires. There is enough room under the tree for a car to drive under, but trucks on either side of the obstacle, left there by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night, say otherwise.

E.T. Bates, a Hollis resident, and Ray Bernier, both of New England Traffic Control, stand guard over the fallen tree, redirecting traffic away from Old Turnpike Road. By 3 p.m. on Tuesday, it’s a job they’ve been at for more than six hours. Old Turnpike Road isn’t a highly used road, and thus the blockage isn’t an immediate priority for tree services and Public Service of New Hampshire crews as they work on critical areas of the power grid.

The two didn’t see a lot of action on Tuesday, said Bates, having occupied the same stretch of road since that morning, making sure cars don’t come through and directing drivers on how to get around the obstruction, as they wait for the tree’s removal. It’s a long day, with not much to do, but it’s an important job, said Bernier.

“It’s a good thing these trucks are here,” he said, indicating the trucks blocking the path on either side of the tree. “If they weren’t, people would drive right through.”

The wires supporting the tree are still active, said Bernier. Should the tree come down, taking the wires with it, the road would become a serious hazard.