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Quincy gives National Grid higher marks for storm response

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 13, 2011 10:37 AM

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Only 30 Quincy homes remain without power Thursday, after the previous day's blizzard knocked out electricity to over 1,000 homes throughout the city.

Without question, said mayoral spokesperson Chris Walker, National Grid's response was better this storm.

“Clearly there was more communication between the city and National Grid this time around,” he said. “We’re not going to suggest it was perfect, but clearly National Grid got the message from the first storm that there wasn’t an adequate level of communication in terms of what was going on and how they were doing it.”

Fire Chief Joseph Barron agreed that National Grid took the criticism it received from the Christmas weekend storm and put it to good use.

"We realize the economy effects everyone, including National Grid, but the performance was unacceptable. But they really stepped up this time around. It is 100 percent better," he said.

National Grid updated their emergency response plan prior to this storm to improve on their response time and management, Walker said.

Even so, Barron doesn't feel the problem was in the guidelines, but due to the company's difficulties in the recession.

"I think it was a personnel issue," he said, referring to the number of people the company has on staff. "Just as the community was facing issues, so were they."

Barron also feels that National Grid needs to start paying more attention to replacing aging equipment and even trimming hazardous trees to mitigate problems future storms could cause.

Overall, however, the storm was not as drastic as the Christmas weekend blizzard, which prompted the evacuation of 30 residents from parts of Quincy and caused $400,000 in damages from flooding and downed tree limbs.

Yet this week's heavy, wet snowfall did trigger a massive plowing and sanding force that was also improved from the previous storm, Walker said.

“The areas that we marked for improvement the first time showed substantial improvements,” Walker said. “The contractors really listened to the message [DPW Commissioner Larry] Prendeville and [Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch] gave them about trouble spots, and the city is open for business today.”

Previously, areas on Sea Street, Quincy Avenue, and Washington Street were not plowed efficiently; however, Walker said that those streets had been addressed during this storm.

Quincy Public Schools' opening was delayed two hours this morning, but all town buildings opened on time.

All canceled meetings have been postponed indefinitely.

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