One Dead In Storms That Dump More Than 6 Inches of Rain on The BerkshiresTRUDY TYNAN , Associated Press
Jul. 30, 1986 4:44 PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, MASS. SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Scores of farmhouses remained isolated Wednesday by washed-out roads after thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands and dumped more than 6 inches of rain.
One man drowned in a flash flood in western Massachusetts and another was electrocuted by a fallen power line in Rhode Island.
The thunderstorms Tuesday also knocked out electrical service and flooded streets in many southern Rhode Island communities.
''We have 15 to 20 town roads washed out that we know of and I don't know how many people stuck in their homes, unable to get out, because of the roads. We haven't been able to get around to check and a lot of them have lost their phone service,'' said Monica Vandoloski, chairwoman of the Cummington selectmen.
She said a three-mile section of the main road through the western Massachusetts town was ''washed out with holes 10 feet deep in some places.''
Selectmen declared a state of emergency in the mountaintop town of 720 people, where Secretary of State George Shultz has a house. Shultz was not at home.
The National Weather Service said the town had received 6.08 inches of rain by midday Wednesday. The basement of the town hall was flooded with a foot of water, Mrs. Vandoloski said.
A few miles west of Shultz's farmhouse, she said, one lane of Route 9 was closed for several hours after Cummington Fire Chief Bernard L. Forgea's back yard slid onto the highway. ''The whole yard is just gone,'' Mrs. Vandoski said.
More than 23,700 customers in the state's four western counties lost power at the height of the storm, utility officials said.
In eastern Massachusetts, the storms caused some minor flooding and left 16,000 Boston Edison Co. customers without service.
Berkshire County officials reported up to 1,000 lightning strikes at the height of the storm and dozens of houses and several barns were hit in Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin.
''I've never seen as much direct lightning associated with one storm ... It stayed around for two hours and it was lightning strike after lightning strike, just constant,'' said Conway Fire Chief Robert Baker.
Millard and Bernadette Jones were cooking dinner when lightning rolled through their house, setting the floorboards ablaze, said North Adams fire Lt. Sheldon Field.
''It scared the bejeebers out of them,'' he said.
As a precaution, Conway officials evacuated 18 homes below an earthen dam in the center of the village, Baker said.
Robert Stiles, 34, of Huntington, drowned when he was swept away by a flash flood on a creek near the Westfield River, state police said. His body was found Wednesday.
''Normally that's a two-foot stream, but in the flash flood it became a 15- to 20-foot swollen river, with whirlpools as it joined the larger stream,'' Sgt. Thomas Burnickas said.
In Rhode Island, police said Patrick M. McSally, 22, of South Attleboro, Mass., was electrocuted Tuesday in Wakefield when he stepped out of his car to put out what he thought was a brush fire but was a live power wire.
Four soccer players in Newport, R.I., were injured when lightning struck among them, said fire department Lt. William H. Alger.
Two of them were in stable condition Wednesday at Newport Hospital. Two others were treated and released.