Town’s response was refreshing

Saturday, May 8, 2010
By Cary Shuman

Winthrop Fire Chief Paul Flanagan oversaw a major water distribution effort to Winthrop residents in response to the ruptured water pipe break Saturday in Weston that affected the 2.5 million residents in the area.

Flanagan contacted MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic incident. Because of Flanagan’s quick response, the town received a delivery of 6,000 five-gallon jugs of water early Sunday morning, one of the first communities to get a shipment from MEMA on a National Guard truck.

Five water deliveries of 20,000 gallons and 4,500 cases of water followed during the day.

Flanagan said a town-wide effort allowed him to plan for and establish a water distribution program in the parking lot between the high school and Veterans Baseball Field, across from Miller Field. Winthrop residents were given water bottles as they pass through the location in their motor vehicles. Others walked to the station to obtain their cases of water bottle.

“The entire town work force assisted us,” said Flanagan. “The MRC (Medical Reserve Corps helped us. Winthrop Police officers helped with crowd and traffic control. Chief Terence Delehany has been a great resource. The on-duty firefighters helped hand out the water. The DPW and the Harbormaster’s Division also assisted in the operation.”

Flanagan’s planning efforts insured that the Winthrop schools received water and hand sanitizers Monday morning. The chief also helped deliver water bottles to the Winthrop Senior Center, seniors, and disabled residents.

In a letter to the Sun- Transcript, Peg Tiernan Lyons, executive director of the Winthrop Housing Authority, thanked Flanagan and the Winthrop Fire Department for “your hard work during the emergency.”

Lyons said 348 elderly and disabled tenants of the WHA received water because of Flanagan’s “thoughtfulness, professionalism and diligence.”

Winthrop’s volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), led by Councilor Jeanne Maggio, had a major role in the distribution of water bottles to residents. The group worked in coordination with the Winthrop Fire Department.

“We didn’t close down until midnight [Sunday] and they were on duty at 7 a.m. [Monday],” said Maggio. “Chief Flanagan was the one who put this whole effort together. He applied for assistance from MEMA right from the get go. He was right on top of the situation before other communities even had their water. If it weren’t for Chief Flanagan, the water distribution program wouldn’t have put into place. I’m so proud of my Reserve Corps. They are an amazing group. ”

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