WBUR

Mass. Cleans Up After Escaping Full Brunt Of Sandy

Workers on Tuesday use chainsaws to cut up a tree that fell on power lines in Andover. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Workers on Tuesday use chainsaws to cut up a tree that fell on power lines in Andover. (Elise Amendola/AP)

BOSTON — Relieved that the state escaped the full brunt of Sandy’s fury, Massachusetts officials offered a hand Tuesday to other hard-hit states in the region while monitoring the progress of utilities restoring power at home.

On Tuesday, Gov. Deval Patrick said damage assessment teams that had been traveling the state since daybreak found no evidence of any serious infrastructure damage, though there were plenty of toppled trees and damage to individual homes and businesses.

About 206,000 Massachusetts residents remained without power as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, down from some 400,000 at the height of the storm. (NStarNational GridUnitilWMECO).

“We feel very fortunate, particularly as you look at some of the scenes and read some of the reports from New York and New Jersey and Connecticut,” the governor said. He has been in touch with officials in those states to see what Massachusetts can do to help.

Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, head of the state’s National Guard, said that two H-60 helicopters had been sent to New Jersey and a handful of soldiers were headed to Connecticut. Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey said the MBTA was also prepared to offer technical assistance to New York City, if needed, to help restore service to its flooded subway system.

In Massachusetts, the focus on Tuesday was slated to shift to power restoration, with utilities expected to give projections later in the day on when all power would be restored to customers. The governor said the progress would be closely monitored.

“Now is the time for the utility companies to show us there performance, and more to the point, to show their customers their performance,” he said.

The power providers had been sharply criticized in the aftermath of two major storms last year in which some people waited a week for the lights to come back on.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said it’s too early to compare utility efforts to Tropical Storm Irene and the October snowstorm, but he likes what he’s seen so far.

“We’ve seen a higher level of coordination,” Murray said. “You’ve seen the line crews actually communicating with the tree crews so they can get things addressed as soon as possible.”

A large number of the power outages were on Cape Cod.

“There will still be areas throughout the Cape that will experience road closures or interruptions in travel due to wires down, poles down,” said State Police Sgt. Timothy Whalen, who’s based in Yarmouth. “It’s just a matter of waiting for already-overworked and overtaxed utility crews to get to those locations.”

There were no reports of deaths or even serious injuries in Massachusetts due to Sandy.

Transportation was also returning to normal around the state on Tuesday. T service, which shut down during the storm Monday, was fully restored by Tuesday with the exception of the D branch of the Green Line, where buses were substituting for trolleys. (See the latest alerts.)

Ferry service also resumed to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

There were no reports of damage to runways at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Patrick said. But commercial flight disruptions were expected to continue as a result of problems caused by the storm elsewhere along the East Coast.

Many schools in Massachusetts remained closed Tuesday, but residents in south coastal areas were mostly relieved that the 6-foot storm surge caused by the powerful hybrid storm did not cause more extensive damage.

A coastal flood advisory was in effect until 1 p.m. Tuesday, and a wind advisory is in effect until 7 p.m.

Patrick said during a briefing at the state’s emergency management center in Framingham that 161 people spent the night in shelters around Massachusetts. Officials had opened enough shelters statewide to accommodate thousands, if necessary.

By mid-Tuesday, the Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts had closed all of its shelters.

Spokeswoman Kat Powers said the agency is now working to identify remaining local needs, “going through neighborhoods, sometimes street by street, figuring out what the specific damage was and being able to target the aid that is directly needed in those communities.”

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
Most Popular