Lawmakers seek aid for Scituate

Brown to survey damage today

Greg Griffin helped a friend move belongings out of a storm-damaged home on Oceanside Drive in Scituate on Tuesday. Greg Griffin helped a friend move belongings out of a storm-damaged home on Oceanside Drive in Scituate on Tuesday. (Bill Greene/ Globe Staff)
By Jessica Bartlett
Globe Correspondent / December 30, 2010

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SCITUATE — US Senator Scott Brown will visit the Sand Hills area of Scituate today as local officials continue to assess damage from Sunday’s nor’easter and begin to make a case for federal and state assistance.

The storm, which left two waterfront homes destroyed by fire, flooded dozens of residences, severely damaged a sea wall, and cut power to more than 1,000 homes, has created many problems for the small town already struggling with a tight budget.

It was uncertain yesterday what disaster relief money — state or federal — the town would seek. But state Senator Robert Hedlund, who viewed the damage on Tuesday, is hoping that Brown’s visit to the soaked and sand-strewn area will drive home the seriousness of the situation.

“We’re trying to work with what’s available to us to bring some assistance down to the community,’’ Hedlund said. “We have Senator Brown coming down . . . to take a look to see what might be available as far as sea wall help.’’

In addition to Hedlund, US Representative-elect William Keating also viewed the damage yesterday, bringing even more attention to the stressed seaside town.

Boulders were put into the 60-foot breach in the sea wall on Turner Road yesterday to help mitigate damage that might result from high tides.

But state and local officials said it was clear that some sort of financial help would be needed.

Town officials have said they expect damage estimates to climb into the millions.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has been assessing homes individually since the storm and is expected to put a number on the damages by next week, said state Representative James Cantwell, who has also seen the waterfront damages.

“The president has to make the eventual disaster declaration, and we’re hoping to speed that process along so we can qualify for federal funds,’’ Cantwell said.

Cantwell said Marshfield experienced a similar situation in May when a storm significantly damaged 400 feet of sea wall.

Based on his experiences there, Cantwell expects the costs and the repairs in Scituate to look about the same.

“I was able to get $100,000 pretty rapidly [in state emergency disaster funds], and the town had to call for a special town meeting in which the town authorized $1.2 million for the long term repairs,’’ he said.

Cantwell has been attempting to secure some emergency funds from the Department of Conservation and Recreation as he did for Marshfield.

But as far as longer-term repairs, Cantwell assumed most of the burden would fall on the town.

“Right now, state support we’d have to say is uncertain,’’ he said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can try to follow the steps that I took for Marshfield, that we can get money for emergency repairs. But for the long-term large [repairs], that’s something that there won’t be enough state funds to fix.’’