The Lion Roared in Winthrop:Town Hit by Second Severe Flood in Two Months

Saturday, March 10, 2018
By Sue Ellen Woodcock

The month of March certainly came in like a lion and let’s hope it goes out like a lamb.

Water flooded Washington Avenue around the Elks Club.

Eastern coast communities, including Winthrop, were battered with a nor’easter that blew in on Friday and stayed much of the weekend.

Winthrop even made the Sunday New York Times with a photograph of the storm.

Winthrop firefighters rescued three stranded people and responded to numerous calls for help with wires down. Winthrop DPW crews responded to trees down, street flooding and for the clean up of debris after.

High tides, with a 4-5 foot surge of waves pounded coastal areas during four tides from Friday to Sunday. The Friday high tide came in at 14.67 feet compared to the Blizzard of 1978 when tides reached 15 feet.

Unlike the January “Bomb Cyclone” this storm, tagged Winter Storm Riley, hit areas of the town hard, including Morton Street, Shirley Street, Washington Avenue, Crest Avenue, Pico Street and Revere Street at Short Beach, Point Shirley and more.

“It was almost a carbon copy of January 4,” Flanagan said. “All the homes that flooded during this storm flooded back in January. But we didn’t have as many this time.”

“Shore Drive wasn’t really a problem for us,” Flanagan said. “Never in my 40 years at the fire department did I see waves so big. The renourishment on Winthrop Shore Beach took a tremendous pounding but it did its job.”

At several points access to Point Shirley were denied as was access to Revere by way of Short Beach. The water also rose high enough to shut off access to Winthrop completely from Revere. Fire Chief Paul Flanagan said the Winthrop Parkway was closed at 5 a.m. on Friday. With only one way out of town on Main Street going toward East Boston traffic in Winthrop became gridlocked.

“We had a huge problem with people trying to traverse the town. The traffic was unbelievable,” Flanagan said. “The flood gates at Short Beach were closed at 5 a.m. for four days. It really capped the town.”

Winds gusted to 56 mph Friday as the third highest tide ever recorded hit.

Officials opened the Winthrop Senior Center in the morning to residents who wanted to relocate during the high tides.

Officials sent out warnings early about flooding, high winds and power outages. The Winthrop Fire Department provided bags for sand bag protection. Crews from MassPort also came in to help.

Beginning last Friday, a parking ban went into effect at 8 a.m. on Winthrop Shore Drive. Firefighters went door to door to suggest people leave but many decided to remain.

Police officers escorted school busses to their stops on Friday, as wind driven rains were accompanied by downed tree limbs.

“We  had a lot more power outages with this storm. Ninety units at the Arbors were out. The East Boston Health Center was on emergency power. About a third of the town was out for 24 hours. Some of the houses were cooling off,” Flanagan said.

The National Guard evacuated some residents from the Point Shirley area in high-water rescue vehicles. Flanagan said three families were assisted in evacuation.

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