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Scituate dealing with debris, complete power outages 48 hours after storm

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  February 10, 2013 11:04 AM

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Scituate officials say their first priority is getting power back as the town deals with impacts from Friday's massive blizzard.

In an emergency Board of Selectmen meeting on Sunday afternoon, town officials were told National Grid hopes to have partial power restored to the town by Tuesday and that plowing efforts were ongoing.

"Some of our main concerns are getting all the roads plowed. A lot of roads, like 50, have not been, because there are trees down or some sort of reason why we can't get to them. That’s a concern we’re working on," said Tony Vegnani, acting chair of the Board of Selectmen.

According to Vegnani, flooding hasn't been an issue since the storm, though Nemo left a wake of debris as the water receded.

"In Humarock, there's six feet of sand in the road. The Glades is impassable. Rebecca and Lighthouse road, all kinds of debris of fences and stones just blocking the road so that you can’t pass," Vegnani said.

The Department of Public Works is already working to clean those areas.

Town officials declined to give an estimate of how much cleanup efforts will cost, but said costs were mainly being driven up by overtime and equipment rentals.

As for costs associated with the seawall, the town would have to reassess the walls once the water had complete receeded, but besides that it was hard to say.

"There has been rumors of seawall breaching but there is no evidence of that right now," Vegnani said.

Officials will meet again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to formally vote to defecit spent, which would allow the town to borrow from stabilization to pay any storm-related costs.

The town may also be able to get money from the state if the damage is high enough county-wide.

"But we’re not concerned about the funding aspect right now," Vegnani said.

As the town works through cleanup on the shoreline, officials said power restoration efforts are largely in the hands of National Grid.

"Everything is in the hands of National Grid now to see how quickly [we can get power back]," Vegnani said. "I'm looking at two trucks now on Route 3A pulling trees off lines. They have a lot of manpower here, they say. So it's really in their hands. We’re 100 percent out of power."

The power issues have had a trickle down effect on residents, who have sought out warmth at the town's Emergency Shelter.

By Sunday morning, the shelter at Scituate High School was maxed out at 121 people.

At this time, there are no plans to open another shelter, and the town was working on transporting some people at the shelter back to their homes.

“We’re using vans to transport them in groups they may come back this evening but they want to shovel out, get some things, and stay with family and friends,” Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said Sunday morning.

The power issues and debris cleanup have forced the town to close all school and town offices on Monday

Despite best efforts, communication has also been limited. The town has no cable, Internet, and AT&T has not been reliable, Vinchesi said. The only way to get information out to the public is through the radio and local media.

The result has been a slew of frustrated phone calls to town offices, and an inundation of calls into 9-1-1 seeking information.

The town has reminded residents to use 9-1-1 only for emergencies, and said they understand the frustration.

“We certainly empathize, we’re working diligently to restore things,” Vinchesi said. “I know people want to know what’s going on, and we’re doing our best, but we don’t have the operational technology right now.”

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