Town departments worked overtime to help residents

Friday, March 19, 2010
By Transcript Staff

Like most of eastern Massachusetts, Winthrop was hit hard by a storm last weekend and into Monday, as a late season Nor’easter set up just to the south of Cape Cod and churned wind, rain and waves into the region beginning late Friday.

“We were very lucky, that we had an astronomically low tide, because the forecasts were calling for a two and a half foot storm surge, with wind on top of that and we still only got up to about a 12.5 foot tide,” explained Fire Chief Paul Flanagan. “Generally we need a 13-foot tide or better to really cause a lot of flooding problems around town.”

The low tide helped control the flooding problems around the line, but the length of the storm, coupled with the amount of rainfall – Winthrop got around 8.5 inches of rain over the three days – and the high winds was quite enough to put town departments on high alert even without the ocean crashing down side streets and into basements.

“Saturday and into Sunday, we were most concerned about the high winds bringing down tree limbs and power lines,” said Chief Flanagan. “By Sunday night and then into Monday night, we started to get the calls for flooding in homes all over town.”

Flanagan said the Fire Department assisted more than 35 calls for flooded basements, with some homes recording 1.5 to 3 feet of water in their basements. Other home owners who called for help, but only had an inch or two, could not be pumped out because the level of the water wasn’t high enough for the town owned gas-powered pumps to be useful.

“In some cases we were able to help people get their own pumps working again, but it was kind of a funny storm, the way it developed,” added Flanagan.

Flanagan noted that public works crews were also working throughout the weekend responding to calls for assistance and keeping an eye on the water level in Lewis Lake.

“We had crews going to the lake a couple of times per day opening the gates and letting the water out, because we’re worried about the lake level, especially with the winds,’ said Flanagan. “It almost looked like the ocean, when it was full.”

Flanagan noted that this wasn’t the biggest storm the town has faced in recent years, the Mother’s Day rainstorm of 2006 brought the same amount of water in about half the time, but it was big enough to cause people to need help.

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