WBUR

Marshfield Residents Without Power Seek Warmth At Shelter

MARSHFIELD, Mass. — The South Shore community of Marshfield was particularly hard hit by the weekend’s record snowfall, where on Monday morning 70 percent of NStar customers in the town were still without power.

A number of residents, seeking heat, evacuated their homes, staying with friends, relatives or at a shelter at the Furnace Brook Middle School.

Specialist Christopher Graham of the National Guard has been helping transport evacuees from around the South Shore to a temporary shelter the Furnace Brook Middle School in Marshfield. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Specialist Christopher Graham, of the National Guard, has been helping transport evacuees from around the South Shore to a temporary shelter the Furnace Brook Middle School in Marshfield. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

A Visit To The Shelter

Standing outside the school smoking, 60-year-old Joanne Olderich uses one word to describe how it’s been for her since the storm hit: grueling. She got here Saturday evening.

“I feel like I’ve been up for three days straight,” Olderich said. “I’ll be glad to get home to my own house. No place like home.”

More than 100 others here feel the same way. A good number were transported by the National Guard in military-style Hummers.

Specialist Christopher Graham, with the 772 Military Police Company out of Taunton, was activated Friday and has been helping transport people from Marshfield and neighboring Duxbury.

“Mostly elderly people, getting medications, checking on pets,” Graham said.

Forty-three-year-old Nancy Hogan’s electricity went out Friday night, but she stayed put until Sunday. She’s here at the shelter with her two sons, ages 13 and 2. She says the storm has been scary.

Susan Borden is one of two people managing the shelter. She works for Marshfield’s Emergency Operations Center and says when the evacuees arrive, they air a common complaint.

“They’re cold. Their houses are all 30 to 40 degrees, no power,” she said. “So they’re all here,” where there’s heat, cots, food and chargers for cellphones.

Borden takes me on a tour past rows of lockers in the school hallway. One corridor is reserved for pets, but 74-year-old Jan Norman had to leave her cats at home after she lost power Friday night.

“Thermometer went down — in two hours it went from 70 to 50 — and I knew by 10 o’clock in the morning I had to leave,” Norman said. “So I left the cats with enough food and I called the police and in 10 minutes an army vehicle was at my driveway. I’d already been plowed so they came and got me. I grabbed my medicine and my quilt, so I’ve been warm.”

John Ignatious McDonough, 79, of Plymouth, sang songs to calm the others down. He recalls another infamous New England blizzard.

“I’m retired from the MBTA, so in ’78 I was driving through that whole affair on the Green Line in Boston,” he recalled. “This seems to be worse. At the outset it just kind of overwhelmed us. We knew it was coming but we didn’t know how bad it was going to be. I certainly didn’t expect it to be this bad, to be holed up down here, but we do the best we can.”

McDonough is optimistic that he will make it up to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston this week for radiation. He had a tumor removed last year.

Virginia Gaffney, 79, did not take the National Guard Hummer to the shelter. Instead, Gaffney says, when the lights went out she waited for someone to drive by.

“So I had my flashlight and I saw a car coming down, so I took the flashlight and I kept flicking it,” Gaffney said. “So the fellow stopped and said, ‘Are you looking for help?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘I could tell.’ … So he said, ‘Come on, hop in the car.’ ”

Gaffney was hoping to go home before the weekend was over, but officials, concerned for her safety, have told her to stay. Like a lot of the people here, she says she’s just going to “go with the flow.”

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