Good Planning Keeps Sandy’s Impact to Minimum

November 1, 2012
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Waves pounded the seawall on Shore Drive during Monday’s high tide.

A coordinated effort and the advance preparations of local officials, departmental leaders, and Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo helped the town escape the wrath of Hurricane Sandy in good shape, according to Town Manager James McKenna.

Hurricane Sandy brought 65 mile-per-hour winds and much rain to the town shores and streets but McKenna felt the town had an excellent response to the challenges brought by the storm.

“I was very impressed and proud of our management team and personnel – all hands of deck; everyone who worked this storm really showed how Winthrop is well prepared and capable of addressing storms of this scale,” said McKenna. “It’s quite amazing for me to witness our men and women in action.”

During the height of the storm McKenna toured the town with Fire Chief Paul Flanagan. “I saw our firefighters and police officers handling a variety of incidents all at once,” said McKenna.

Flanagan said there was some personal property damage such as electrical services being dismantled from homes and four boats breaking loose in the harbor. The chief also reported that at the peak of the storm 2,100 customers were without electrical power.

The Fire Department had begun preparing last week for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy with twice-daily conference calls with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the National Weather Bureau.

Flanagan said the Fire Department handled 96 calls for service during a 16-hour period. The majority of calls were for electric-related problems such as wires arcing against houses and down power lines in the streets as a result of wind and falling trees.

WFD staged fire apparatus and ambulances on Point Shirley during periods of high tides. Shirley Street at Tewksbury Street became impassable for a period of a few hours during Monday morning’s high tide.

The chief also said that two telephone poles went down on Putnam Street while another pole broke off at the base on Veterans Road.

At 10 a.m. on Monday, Flanagan had the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) open a shelter at the Cummings School in case of tidal concerns.

“The MRC is a very dedicated group of well-trained professionals who volunteer their time to attend shelter training and preparedness,” said Flanagan. “We had over 24 volunteers to greet residents at the shelter. Only 10 residents from Golden Drive took advantage of the shelter.”

Flanagan, who is the town’s emergency management director, thanked Police Lt. Frank Scarpa for his “leadership and professionalism during this weather event, Public Works Director Steve Calla and his crew who kept our roads passable and helped the town make a quick recovery from the storm.” Flanagan also praised DCR officials for their clean-up efforts on Winthrop Shore Drive.

Calla said the DPW was fully staffed for the storm and received its first call Monday at 7:30 a.m. regarding a large tree branch being down.

“The bulk of our work throughout the day was tree-related calls, tree clean-ups, and constant cleanings of the catch basins in the town,” said Calla. “The leaves are a real issue at this time of year.”

The DPW chief said there were 30 documented calls and responses, with several stops made by DPW workers to remove branches from the road.

“We were very busy,” said Calla. “The guys worked until about 11 p.m. Monday. My hat’s off to the Fire Department and the Police Department. Everybody worked as a team and the whole process went smoothly.”

Superintendent of Schools John Macero said the School Department canceled school on Monday and Tuesday, the latter day “as a preventative issue.”

“Monday at 9 p.m., it was difficult with other areas having power outages and parents expressing concern that they didn’t have power in their homes and weren’t sure how they would get their kids to school,” said Macero. “The schools are in good shape and the buildings seemed to have survived the storm well.”

McKenna also commended the leadership and assistance of Speaker DeLeo, who closely monitored all storm-related activities. McKenna said the Speaker’s effort resulted in a DCR pump being available to town officials.

“The Speaker was in direct conversations with Governor Patrick and the Governor made sure that we were aware that whatever we needed, the state would make it available to us. There was a great partnership effort,” said McKenna.

College Financial aid presentation set

There will be a free presentation on College Financial Aid for junior and senior parents and students on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 6:30 P.M. in the Winthrop High School cafeteria.

An experienced MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financial Authority) representative will discuss the College Financial Aid process including the application for the FAFSA www.fafsa.ed.gov (Federal Student Aid).  For more information on the MEFA Organization you may go to their website www.mefa.org.   Time will be allowed for questions and answers.  Light refreshments will be served.

Food Drive to be   under the Lights

Cub Scout Pack 75 will be collecting nonperishable food for the Winthrop food pantry at Miller Field, Friday night November 2 (Vikings vs. Triton). Please bring any donations to the front gate at game time (7:00 PM).

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