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A single picture says it all: high school friends pulling, tug-of-war style, on ropes to drag a tree limb off a roof and deck where it had crashed down during a storm. Sudden vicious wind and heavy rain blew through town around dinnertime on May 15. Although brief, the storm left many homes, including that of high school marching band student Dom Pasquarella and mother and stepfather Alison and Dylan Thomas, either heavily damaged or surrounded by heavy fallen limbs and trees.
One of several friends to respond to Dom two days later while off from school when they learned his Butterfield home was trapped behind tree damage, was senior Thomas Hasselberger.
“It’s heartwarming to see groups of teenagers reaching out to neighbors and friends to help,” wrote Thomas’s mother, Julie Hasselberger, in a May 22 Facebook post.
This week, she and Thomas remembered the aftermath.
After learning his friend’s home was blocked in by storm damage, Thomas said, “I wanted to help him.”
Mentioning that many students were concerned about charging phones and computers, “Thomas said he was going over to Dom’s,” Ms Hasselberger said.
Considering that far less destruction took place at his Bennett’s Bridge house, Thomas said, “There wasn’t much I could do here.”
Making the drive to his friend’s address was precarious. “Roads were closed, and I could not go the usual way. Power lines were down, and there were dangling power lines maybe a foot from the top of the car,” Thomas said.
Several friends and bandmates joined in an effort to clear trees that fell across Dom’s driveway and in the yard. “We went over and gave him a hand,” Thomas said.
While Dom’s stepfather Dylan Thomas took a chain saw to some trunks and limbs, Thomas and the others — Matt Lundquist, Scott Preszler, Claudia Harrison, Andrew Buzzi, Aiden Schmid, and Ian Klepacki — moved branches and logs out of the way. “Two trees were leaning against the house and deck,” Thomas said.
Mr Thomas said he was “overwhelmed by [the] support, and they were a huge help.” Another band dad commented that manpower is underrated.
“And I agree,” Mr Thomas said. The many extra hands “made everyone’s job easier,” he added.
A first look at the damage “was intimidating, but with so many hands, it really went quickly. We really appreciate their help.”
Sitting with her son, Ms Hasselberger looked at him, saying, “It’s really nice. It struck me that the kids were together; they all took care of each other.” The action fosters a “spirit of community,” she said. When the bandmates perform, she said it is a group effort, which seems to have “spilled into private life too.”
Thomas noted other simple offers between friends after the storm, such as a place to stay for those who could not get home.
Thomas, gifted with perfect pitch, and who enjoys playing multiple saxophones and other instruments, dreams of being a traveling pit orchestra musician.