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Flooded Residents Wait For President In Vain02:27
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The Hutchens' home in Freetown is surrounded by the high waters of Long Pond. (Fred Thys/WBUR)
The Hutchens' home in Freetown is surrounded by the high waters of Long Pond. (Fred Thys/WBUR)

Reps. Jim McGovern and Barney Frank showed up for a tour of flooded areas of Fall River, but the small crowd outside City Hall had been waiting for President Obama.

In the end, Mr. Obama's only exposure to the floods was a briefing at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency bunker in Framingham.

Among those waiting was Lorraine Neves. Asked about how she felt about the fact the the president was not coming, she said, "Oh, I'm delighted. I'm delighted."

"That he's not coming?" I asked.

"That he is coming," Neves said.

"He's not coming," I explained.

"He's not?"

"No."

"He isn't coming?" she asked, again.

"No." I said.

"Oh, here I am waiting for him."

Fall River overwhelmingly votes Democratic, and it didn't bother Neves that the president was in Boston raising money for his party but didn't make time to see the flooded areas.

"A good job," Neves said. "Good job. He's doing a good job. I think he is, anyway."

Colleen Almeida thought the president should have made a stop in Fall River.

"He should," Almeida said. "He should come and see it. It's horrible."

Congressman Barney Frank did come and see it.

In Freetown, the Hutchens' driveway slipped under the waters of Long Pond, and beyond, surrounded by the waters, you could see the house Scott Hutchens built. He waded out of it to meet Frank and describe the damage.

"We've got four feet of water," Hutchens told Frank. "Flood insurance at $250,000 is not going to cover the material to put this back together, but we will rebuild."

Frank also heard from the chairwoman of the Freetown Board of Selectmen, Jean Fox. She says she went to the Army Corps of Engineers to ask for a second access road to a neighborhood of 1,000 people cut off by the flood waters when the only bridge to it washed out.

"They're telling us it's our problem," Fox told Frank. "We need to get clarification on that, because Freetown is not in a position to finance that."

A new road would coast several million dollars.

"Let me say the hated word," Frank replied. "I'm ready to 'earmark' money for that purpose. This is what earmarks are for."

Frank said it's too early to say how much money will be needed for the worst flooded communities: Freetown, Lakeville and Fall River. Though the sun has come out, in many places, the waters are still rising.

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This program aired on April 2, 2010.

Fred Thys Twitter Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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