By Lauren DiTullio, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 05--METHUEN -- Harry Castillas, owner of Harry Auto Body, was standing outside his shop at 1010 Riverside Dr. in Methuen when a large portion of the building's roof was torn off by Thursday evening's violent winds.

"It was scary. I was out here when the roof hit the cars. I went inside. I didn't want to get hit,'" he said.

Castillas said his shop was spared the worst of the blow, though his staff had to buff scratches out of a car that sustained minor damage when the large section of roof was blown to the ground. Three cars on the lot at Hughes Motor Group, a used car dealer, were also damaged when the section of roof landed, according to Castillas. Harry Auto Body and Hughes Motor Group share the building, and the damage to the building was isolated to the car dealer's side.

"The rain started coming down big time and it was like a tornado or something. Cars pulled over because it was so bad, and then as quick as it happened, it was gone," Castillas said.

Castillas said Hughes Motor Group had closed early on July 3 for Independence Day, and no employees were present when the roof was destroyed. When the worst of the storm passed, Castillas and his staff turned off the breakers to cut power to the neighboring business, because rain was falling freely onto the office computers. Yesterday, insulation and ceiling tiles littered the office.

David LaPointe, owner of LaPointe construction, said he believed all of the electronics in the office had been destroyed. He and a crew of several employees were on site yesterday cleaning up debris from the dealership's driveway. The Andover-based construction company has contracted with the building's owner to oversee the property's maintenance. LaPointe estimated the damage to the roof to be at least $70,000, and said the total cost could be as high as $100,000 if none of the equipment that was inside can be salvaged.

"The whole roof came off. There's water in the bay, the workshop, the office. It's pretty bad," LaPointe said.

LaPointe said he will work with an assessor from Hughes Motor Group's insurance company to price out repairs next week. LaPointe's business was closed yesterday for the holiday, but pieces of the building's roof were sitting in the driveway, and cleanup couldn't wait until Monday.

Castillas and his staff also came to work on their day off to help clean up. Castillas, who lives in Methuen, said he could not recall a storm that did so much damage around town in such a short amount of time. All the same, he said he was grateful things hadn't turned out worse.

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"Somebody could have been hurt but no one was hurt, and that's really the important thing," he said. "We're almost done here, then I'm going to go enjoy the holiday with my family."


(c)2014 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)

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