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In Quincy, storm prep is "all hands on deck"

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 7, 2013 11:35 AM

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As a blizzard barrels towards Massachusetts, Quincy officials are already prepping for the worst.

“It is all hands on deck,” said mayoral spokesman Christopher Walker.

According to Walker, Quincy will have more than 100 pieces of equipment – including plows, sanders, and loaders – on hand to deal with the storm impacts.

Street brining – the laying of a salt solution that prevents ice – is happening today, with the hope that the solution will help the Friday afternoon commute.

Tree crews are also on hand to deal with fallen limbs and dislodged trees, and the city has 50-60 pumps available in case of coastal flooding.

“There is some concern, the way the tides are working out,” Walker said. “We are doing what we would do for a rain and wind event, a water event so to speak. In the event that flooding becomes an issue, we do have pumps ready to go. The tide gates have been shut, everything has been checked – we’ll go through like we did with Hurricane Sandy. That process is going on right now.”

The mayor has also met with his Emergency Management Team to put precautionary measures in place.

“If necessary we will have a shelter available, that’s always a game time decision because of the logistics involved in opening a shelter, but the fire chief, police chief, DPW [commissioner], mayor are in constant contact and if there is an issue with people losing heat, we will be able to open the shelter,” Walker said.

DPW Commissioner Daniel Raymondi also confirmed that the city is prepared. Trash pickup on Friday morning will start an hour early – at 6 a.m. – and the department has already prepared sandbags for coastal residents.

“The anticipation is we’re going to get a big storm, and we’re as prepared as we can,” Raymondi said. “We have plenty of salt, plenty of vehicles, we’re just asking people to stay off the road.”

Resident compliance will be a big factor in the storm, especially in terms of parking.

Walker warned that the city will crack down on vehicles that are not parked in compliance with the mayor’s storm parking policy – which requires that cars be parked only on the even-numbered side of the street. There is no parking on major roads.

“That’s not just a snow-removal issue, it’s a public safety issue,” Walker said. “We need [access for] ambulances and police cars … and if there are cars on both sides of the street we just can’t do it.”

Walker suggested that residents make other arrangements for their cars altogether to make cleanup easier.

The last link in the storm response will be National Grid, and despite problems the city has had with outage recovery in the past few years, Walker appeared optimistic.

“With a storm like this, there are power issue that are expected, and we would expect that National Grid responds as best as it's capable,” he said.

For their part, National Grid said it has crews at the ready and have implemented an enhanced community liaison program, which assigns one employee per town to be the contact person for officials.

“That’s a new initiative we rolled out after Irene,” said Charlotte McCormack, a spokeswoman for National Grid. “We put a National Grid employee in each community we serve to work with the local officials and be a direct conduit from National Grid to local officials so we can get accurate and timely information.”

At the national company, it's also all hands on deck, with constant storm monitoring at headquarters and thousands of employees at the ready to provide support.

The company has even brought in additional crews and placed them in staging areas prior to the storm’s arrival.

“We’re preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” McCormack said.

For updates throughout the storm, check the city’s website.

According to Walker, twitter will also be the main way the city relays information as things progress. Residents should follow @ChrisWalker77, @CityofQuincy, or @MayorTomKoch for updates, using #Quincy.

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