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Waltham Starts To Dry Out After Flooding

[soundslide]http://www.wbur.org/files/soundslides/2010/wbur_0316_waltham-flood[/soundslide]

Fears of a breach of the Moody Street dam had receded with the water level by Tuesday afternoon, but down river, low-lying parts of Linden Street are still covered with a few feet.

Carlo and Eduardo Fergale pull up to the police tape and then slosh into what looks like a lake of gray, oily water. They pass a couple of SUVs, with tires nearly submerged, whose drivers had clearly underestimated the depth of the water.

The Fergale brothers came here Monday to check on the warehouse where they store equipment for their excavation company. "Well, we tried to at least, but it was incredibly high," Eduardo says.

Now the water is gone, though it has left behind worrisome fumes of gas. But that doesn't phase these guys. "Nice!" Eduardo says when a dry warehouse comes into view.

Most of their power tools had been submerged, so the Fergales assume those are goners. Luckily, the expensive cement mixers still work.

The Fergales will spend the next few days taking pictures of the damage to send to their insurance company.

A couple of blocks away, Jessica Ascencio is wishing she had purchased flood insurance. She woke up in the middle of the night Sunday to a suspicious sound in her basement-level apartment.

"I wake up in like 3 in the morning, and then I hear something, like electricity, going 'zzzz,' and then I step on the floor and it was full of water," she recalls.

Ascencio called 911, and luckily she and her two young children got out safely.

Now, Ascensio, wearing surgical gloves, is packing up what is worth keeping. The furniture that was left is stacked far from the soaked carpet, on top of big, orange buckets that she ran out for at Home Depot as soon as the store opened Sunday morning.

She is moving to a vacant apartment within the same complex, on higher ground. But it is hard for her to leave this place. "We've been living here for almost four years, everything was good, beautiful," she says, looking around the nearly empty room. "And look what happened."

Ascencio says she doesn't understand why her building wasn't evacuated before it got this bad.

Across the hall, her neighbors have similar questions.

Gary Currie is just starting to pack up his apartment when an electrician comes over to make sure the power is turned off. "Do you want the refrigerator on?" the electrician asks.

Currie rolls his eyes and says he's angry and frustrated. "There's sadness, you know?" says the former U.S. Marine. "All of the gambit of normal emotions."

Currie says this could have been prevented if the property managers had placed sand bags around the back of the building, about 20 feet from a stream. "Seemed like they really didn't care about anybody," he says.

Cynthia Burrell, from the property management company Home Properties, denies there were any problems.

"Probably why they didn't have to evacuate was because we were so proactive," she says. "We had the pumps going. We were able to shut down the electricity. But there was no danger. Usually they evacuate when there's danger to the residents."

Burrell couldn't say exactly when residents can return to the affected apartments.

This program aired on March 16, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Bianca Vázquez Toness Twitter Reporter
Bianca Vázquez Toness was formerly a report for WBUR.

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