NORWAY — A home day care center with 10 children ranging in age from 10 months to 10 years were safely evacuated by rescue personnel during Monday’s storm after trees fell on the house and destroyed it.

“The rocks came flying up and dirt and trees. I was crawling on my knees on the floor putting buckets under the broken water,” said 9-year-old Keegan Kuvaja who was in the home at 40 Ashton Road along with his grandmother, two sisters and the children in the day care center. Everyone was downstairs in the basement except the family dog Buster who was upstairs when a tree crashed through the roof of the house severing water pipes.

Stories of a car being pushed backward, trees flying into the air over other treetops and ceilings crashing down were being told by residents Tuesday morning up and down Ashton Road as tree crews and Central Maine Power Co. worked to restore order to the area near Lake Pennesseewassee. Ashton Road is off Route 118 at the southwestern corner of the lake.

Fire Chief Dennis Yates said the devastation was all around the lake area from Shepards Lane, where a family had to be assisted out of their home when a tree fell on it, to a house on Cal Shore Road where a new porch was destroyed by a fallen tree. Two other houses at 11 and 30 Harrison Road (Route 117) also sustained structural damage from tree limbs piercing roofs. Tentative assessments indicate the damage was done by straight line winds and not a tornado, he said.

On Ashton Road, Yates said a swath of some 20 trees were felled in the woods across the road from the house that was destroyed. “It looked like a bomb hit there,” he said Tuesday.

Firefighter Jim Tibbetts, one of the first to arrive at the day care center, said everyone seemed fairly calm but were waiting to make sure they could safely evacuate. Tibbetts said he and another firefighter helped get the children out of the house and walked them a quarter-of-a-mile down the road to the Lake Store on Route 118.

“I ran down the street without stopping,” said Keegan’s sister, 14-year old Lacey Kuvaja.

Keegan’s mom, Becky Kuvaja, said her mother, Dorothy Young, of Buckfield was downstairs in the basement with the 10 children and her grandchildren when the storm passed overhead. “She said all of a sudden the winds started blowing. It sounded like a shotgun and water started gushing,” said Kuvaja as she stood outside her home that is now uninhabitable. “She didn’t realize the trees had fallen.”

Kuvaja said everything is destroyed in the home. Broken water pipes took down the ceilings and by Tuesday morning the house had begun to settle. “It’s not safe to be in there,” she said.

While other neighbors on the road fared better, they also saw significant damage to their property.

“We saw a car go backward. The wind was pushing it back,” said Nick Lamar of 19 Ashton Road as he and Owen Kolar, who also lives at the house, began the daunting task of chopping large felled trees into firewood. “It was crazy.”

Lamar and Kolar said when the storm blew through it pulled the power lines down, smashing them into a window of the old farmhouse. “It sent trees flying higher than other trees,” Kolar said. The powerful winds blew down 100-year-old trees onto their grandparent’s Dodge pickup truck parked in the driveway and through the garage roof but didn’t do any damage to the beautiful wildflower garden in the front of the house.

Neighbors up and down the road reported a noise so loud that they couldn’t hear the trees falling.

“It happened so quickly,” said Breta Howe, who has lived in her farmhouse on Ashton Road for 28 years. “It was so intense, the wind, that you really couldn’t hear the trees fall,” she said as she surveyed the damage in her backyard.

Crews from Lucas Tree Experts of Portland were one of the many in the area Tuesday cleaning up the area. David Bryant, a crew member, said they started the cleanup at 5:30 a.m. and expected to work through to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

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Owen Kolar spent Tuesday chopping up a tree into firewood. The tree fell on his grandparent’s pickup truck and garage roof during a fierce storm that struck the Ashton Road area of Norway near Pennesseewassee Lake on Monday afternoon.


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