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As Sandy Moves North, Mass. Outages Pile Up

Revere Beach feels the effects of Hurricane Sandy Monday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Revere Beach feels the effects of Hurricane Sandy Monday morning. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — The storm Sandy lashed Massachusetts with strong winds and heavy surf Monday, prompting evacuations in some coastal areas and leaving hundreds of thousands in the state without power. (See Monday’s complete rolling coverage for more.)

Though Sandy was off the Mid-Atlantic coast as of Monday evening, its huge swath delivered a hit to Massachusetts.

As of 10 p.m. Monday, some 372,000 customers were without power statewide. (Updated outage maps – NStar, National Grid, Unitil, WMECO).

“[Customers] do need to be prepared for extended power outages, particularly in coastal areas,” said Marcy Reed, president of National Grid.

The state’s utilities have crews, some from out of state, poised to restore power. Before Sandy’s arrival, the utilities were put on notice by state officials that they “better be ready.”

But on Monday afternoon, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan offered a note of caution on expected outage repair.

“Customers do need to understand that while there are a lot of assets and resources on the ground, they will not be able to put the bucket trucks in the air until the heavy winds are over, because it’s just an unsafe condition,” Sullivan said. “So we need the winds to recede before the response can be made by the utility companies.”

There were sustained high winds Monday, with gusts of up to 75 mph along the coast. Flooding was also a concern along much of the state’s shoreline.

Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday afternoon that the state appeared to be holding its own against the storm, with no deaths or serious injuries reported. Two people died in car crashes, but the accidents do not appear to be storm-related.

“I think it’s going well. But it’s nature and it can change in a minute,” the governor said during a briefing at the state’s emergency management headquarters in Framingham.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered in low-lying sections of Dartmouth and Fall River in the southeastern part of the state, while voluntary evacuations were suggested in other coastal communities including parts of Scituate, New Bedford, Lynn and Plum Island.

John Constantine makes his way out of his Andover house after winds from Sandy toppled a tree on Monday. (Winslow Townson/AP)

John Constantine makes his way out of his Andover house after winds from Sandy toppled a tree on Monday. (Winslow Townson/AP)

“During the high tide surges we may not be able to respond to calls for service for Plum Island, whether it be police, fire, EMS, that’s why we’ve asked for the voluntary evacuation,” said Newbury Police Lt. Rick Somasco.

Patrick urged residents to continue to follow the warnings of state and local officials.

“Stay off the roads and indoors,” he said. “As the wind picks up and a number of trees and wires are down, the hazard for individuals is greater, and the need for workers to move around is enormous.”

Patrick had declared a state of emergency and about 1,300 Massachusetts National Guard troops were deployed, with more available.

“Those guardsmen are positioned in their armories across the state, getting ready to respond to impacted communities at the direction of the governor,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Smith, head of the joint storm taskforce, early Monday.

A bystander covers up from being hit with wind and a crashing wave on Winthrop beach Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A bystander covers up from being hit with wind and a crashing wave on Winthrop beach Monday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Shelters were open in many communities, but state officials said few residents were in them, as of Monday afternoon. (See the Red Cross’ eastern Massachusetts shelters.)

Sandy ground the state’s transportation to a halt Monday.

The MBTA suspended all service as of 2 p.m. Monday; transportation officials said they’re “cautiously optimistic” about reopening for Tuesday morning.

“I think our goal would be absolutely to be up and running for [Tuesday] morning’s rush hour,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Davey.

On Monday evening, officials closed the southbound side of the Tobin Bridge, U.S. Route 1, into Boston because of the possibility of construction materials blowing on the road. Officials said it’s expected the inbound bridge will reopen at least by the Tuesday morning commute.

At Logan International Airport, most flights were canceled Monday. Many airlines relaxed policies and waived fees to allow passengers to change travel plans through Wednesday.

Amtrak canceled all of its Northeast Corridor service as of Sunday evening. It later canceled all service for Tuesday as well.

Jeremy Perry shows the now-empty flashlight section at Swartz Hardware in Newton Monday. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Jeremy Perry shows the now-empty flashlight section at Swartz Hardware in Newton Monday. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Residents all across the state braced for the storm.

Salesperson Jeremy Perry, of Swartz Hardware in Newton, said flashlights, D batteries and candles were flying off the shelves.

Evan Higgins, of Harwich, said he thinks this storm will be worse than Tropical Storm Irene, but that he’s ready.

“We got all our water, firewood so we can stay warm, and just waiting out the storm,” Higgins said.

While shopping at the Whole Foods grocery store in Newtonville Monday, Newton resident Sheldon Aronoff, 81, said he isn’t losing sleep over the storm, but he’s still wary.

“Well it’s obviously a very large storm compared to what we’ve experienced in the past,” he said. “But I was alive in the 1938 hurricane — I was 5 years old — a tree fell in front of our house, but we all survived. So I think we’ll all survive.”

Most schools and colleges cancelled classes Monday. State trial courts closed at noon Monday and will stay closed until noon Tuesday.

The U.S. financial markets will also remained closed Tuesday.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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  • Dee

    My storm recovery advise for Governor Patrick….

    I just heard Governor Patrick on the 5 o’ clock news trying to decide whether to join local mayors in shutting down municipal services , including schools tomorrow. As a mother 
    of three grown children –my advise to the governor is to let the crews do the clean up to-
    morrow and keep the kids, buses and teachers off the streets. (With massive tree damage
    and leaf accumulation (and I didn’t get flooded out) it is going to take me and my neigh-
    bors a good day and maybe even the rest of the week to get back on track.) Dee

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