FIRST PERSON | NORTH WORCESTER COUNTY, Mass. -- Hurricane Irene, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm, rambled up the East Coast toward Massachusetts today. Except for some on and off bursts of rain last night it was fairly, if not eerily still. This morning the weather escalated, demonstrating a distinct hurricane-related atmosphere in the north central part of the Commonwealth.
Since 6 a.m., bands of rain, which were perched over the state, began to fluctuate from unexceptional to extreme downpours around 8 a.m. The northeast path that Hurricane Irene took brought on approximately 35 mph wind, and at times increasingly higher, to my neighborhood.
Earlier, the wind gusts were sporadic. However, the gusts definitely came in at a tighter and more frequent pattern. The wind factor of the hurricane had been and remains my biggest concern.
I live on heavily wooded six acres of land. This section of Massachusetts experienced a lot of rain this summer. I was worried about old pine trees uprooting. Because of the extreme denseness of the woods here, the sun doesn't get in to dry out the trees. A lot of rotting branches are just hanging by a thread waiting to catch a ride on a good wind.
Before Hurricane Irene, branches and debris on the north side of my home were snapping off, almost daily. Today, there are some branches down, but nothing notable so far. The best scenario right now is that the wind is falling off finally.
A brook, normally a trickle, that runs off a hill on the side of my house overflowed. Heavy rain, which was no longer letting up for brief spells, and relentless at times, caused the brook to breech its normal path. It was gushing down the banking haphazardly in independent crazy streams-well outside its usual narrow boundary. Over four inches of rain fell. Water made its way into my basement.
I am thankful the electricity is on. The TV is satellite driven; it loses the signal for five or ten minutes at a time. I look out my picture window: The tops of the massive old pines are still swaying unsteadily against the strength of the still powered up wind.