Once the bridge was ready to reopen, the parents of Derek Hines, the local soldier killed in Afghanistan after whom the bridge is named, became the first to drive over it. After that, a stream of cars followed, some honking their horns in excitement along the way.
Though there were some grumbles from a few nearby residents who preferred the peace and quiet that the closed bridge offered, the overwhelming consensus from residents was excitement and relief that a trip to Newburyport would no longer require a long detour down the highway or through Salisbury.
Considering how big a system Sandy was, Amesbury weathered the storm fairly well. The city did not experience any flooding, and despite a considerable rise in water level, the houses by the Merrimack River were never in serious danger like those on Plum Island.
What Amesbury did suffer worse than many other area communities were power outages. More than 80 percent of the city lost power at some point during the storm, which affected the majority of the city’s traffic signals and streetlights.
Compared to past storms in recent years, the outages didn’t ultimately last very long and most of the city was back up and running by the next day. But a couple of nights later, a surprisingly potent late-season thunderstorm rolled through and knocked out power to a large segment of the community again.
On Sept. 15, 18-year-old Paige Fortin was struck by a truck while riding a scooter in Haverhill with her boyfriend. While her boyfriend escaped with minor injuries, Fortin was nearly killed in the accident and was flown to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston for emergency treatment.
Fortin suffered injuries that her doctors described as among the worst they’d ever seen, and one of her legs was in such bad shape that it had to be amputated below the knee. Over the course of the next month, Fortin endured more than a half-dozen surgeries as she began the grueling process of recovery.