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Scituate announces two-hour school delay for Friday morning

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 7, 2013 04:19 PM

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Flooding on Oceanside Drive in Scituate. Photo by David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

With coastal warnings still serious through Friday, Scituate officials have announced all public schools will have a two-hour delayed opening Friday morning.

The announcement was only one of the steps Scituate officials had taken as of Thursday afternoon to prepare for two oncoming high tide cycles, one at 7:29 p.m. Thursday evening (approximately 8.5 feet high, not factoring in storm surge), and another Friday morning (approximately 9.64 feet high, not factoring in storm surge).

The National Weather Service has already predicted a moderate to major event Friday morning, which will be the worst high tide the town will see during the storm.

It will “be equal to if not worse to what we experienced in the blizzard in early February,” Stewart said. “We can't stress enough that people need to pay attention to the latest updates.“

According to Police Chief Brian Stewart, the town had also been clearing roads filled with debris, and monitoring streets that flooded Thursday morning.

Parts of Oceanside Drive were still flooded Thursday afternoon, and Central Avenue in Humarock was made passable around 3 p.m. after waves filled it with sand and stone.

“They had a quarter-mile of road to open up, which they have just opened up. So now we’re going to get ready for tonight, see what happens,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the drill tonight would go similarly to Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with people told to leave and head to the shelter, or stay at their own peril.

“Don’t wait till it’s too late to take appropriate action,” Stewart said. “If folks know you’re in an area that’s dangerous, don’t wait till it’s too late. Come on to the shelter, even if you only wait till the danger is passed. But why take an unnecessary risk?”

Stewart was not sure if town safety officials would go door-to-door before the next two high tides, but noted that they did in areas of Humarock Wednesday evening.

“We’ll have to see what tonight brings if it will be a similar response,” he said.

The DPW will also be on hand to partially clear roadways that prevent a safety risk, Stewart said.

In addition, the town had deployed its military vehicles to help out in the storm. National Guard units were also on standby in the town.

"As far as I know, they are out and about and are available should they be needed," Stewart said. "Last night there was over wash on the 6 p.m. tide in the Central Avenue area and someone got stranded out there, the Fire Department and people were able to go out and remove that motorist to safety."

Town officials are first preparing for Thursday evening’s tide.

“It’s a little lower astronomically than the tide was this morning, but the wind has been blowing on shore all day and has been blowing for days, there is some indication that waves are high off shore,” Stewart said.

The town weathered the first high tide Thursday morning well.

According to Emergency Management Director and Fire Chief Richard Judge, the water was coming over on the coast only a little after the first high tide Thursday morning at 6:44 a.m., but otherwise Scituate was doing well.

Judge said it seemed that some people heeded the town’s warning the day before and evacuated the coast; Scituate schools were also closed. Three people came in to the shelter Wednesday night.

Stewart anticipated that more would come to the shelter Thursday evening.

Scituate residents also reported high, rough seas Thursday morning but nothing overly problematic or unexpected.

“Water up onto the lawns and decks on the harbor side of #Scituate but just starting to recede a bit,” Melissa Marram posted on Twitter. She lives on Lighthouse Road.

Though Lighthouse, which faces the harbor, was doing well, Marram said the ocean-side Rebecca Road was still getting slammed from wave action at 7:30 a.m.

"It was coming over, just the amount I think most of us figured it would," said David Ball, a Rebecca Road resident. "[There is a] medium, moderate [amount of] flooding, nothing horrendous at this point. The tide is starting to drop off. Tomorrow morning will be the bigger problem."

Ball, a member of the town's Seawall Committee, said his main concern will be the coastal barriers, which took a beating less than a month ago with Blizzard Nemo.

"Every time you have a storm like this they take more of a pounding…that’s always a big problem," Ball said, noting that the area in front of the Lighthouse was particularly vulnerable because many of the rocks in front had been dislodged by previous storms.

Power outages have yet to play a big role in this storm, but with wetter snow starting to stick to the ground, it might, Stewart said.

“You get a wet snow, you start snapping trees,'' he said. "We’ll have to wait and see.”

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