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‘The Ladder Hill Gang’ cuts its way out after Sandy

BEFORE: Sandy brought six trees across Ladder Hill Road in Weston, blocking in residents.

BEFORE: Sandy brought six trees across Ladder Hill Road in Weston, blocking in residents.

AFTER: From left, Ladder Hill Road residents Jack Headland, Johnny Lawlor, John Headland, Dan Gilbert, Doug DeBarger (with chain saw), Mark McCall, Alvin Zilz (with his dog Jake), and Rocco DiNappoli sawed their way through the six felled trees to give residents access to Route 53.

AFTER: From left, Ladder Hill Road residents Jack Headland, Johnny Lawlor, John Headland, Dan Gilbert, Doug DeBarger (with chain saw), Mark McCall, Alvin Zilz (with his dog Jake), and Rocco DiNappoli sawed their way through the six felled trees to give residents access to Route 53.

Ladder Hill residents found themselves pretty much on their own after Hurricane Sandy came to town Monday, Oct. 29.

Dan Gilbert, a resident of Ladder Hill Road North and a former selectman, said residents there found on the Tuesday following the storm that not one but six large trees had fallen across the road, blocking access to or from Rt. 53 (Newtown Turnpike).

Many of the trees had taken power lines down, too, but Dr. Gilbert said they could see the lines were broken in several places further down the road. “We were sure the lines carried no power,” he said.

Refusing to be intimidated — and not expecting help to reach them for quite awhile — Dr. Gilbert and eight of his neighbors “got together to cut our way out,” he said.

Taking on the trees one at a time, it took “The Ladder Hill Gang” (which included Dr. Gilbert, Jack Headland, Johnny Lawlor, John Headland, Doug DeBarger, Mark McCall, Alvin Zilz, Rocco DiNappoli, and Skyler DeBarger) until about 4 that afternoon to give every resident on the road a way out.

Dr. Gilbert said they estimated one of the largest trees weighed between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds.

But because it was “neighbors working together to help neighbors,” Dr. Gilbert said the mood was more festive than gloomy.

“It really was a great experience. No one gave orders.  We just discussed how to address each tree,” he said. “Doug DeBarger was central to the process. He provided guidance, the biggest chainsaw and the truck.”

It was, Dr. Gilbert said, a wonderful example of how “in Weston, neighbors help neighbors.”

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