'It was an absolute deluge': Merrimack Valley seeks state aid after last week's intense rain

A man picked debris up off of the floor inside the basement of Jaime's Restaurant in North Andover as he helped to clean up from the damage caused by the flooding. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A man picked debris up off of the floor inside the basement of Jaime's Restaurant in North Andover as he helped to clean up from the damage caused by the flooding. (Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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Just like Mayor Michelle Wu, we’re back from vacation. And we have a lot of catching up to do, from sinkholes to spiked Dunkin’ drinks to “something we’ve never seen before” at Fenway Park.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead and what we missed during the week off:

Gov. Maura Healey is planning to meet with local officials in the Merrimack Valley — the latest region in Massachusetts to be affected by torrential rain — to see what help the state can provide. Some parts of Haverhill, North Andover, Lawrence and Methuen saw six inches of rain from the intense storm last Tuesday. Residents are continuing to file insurance claims and sort through property damage this week.

  • Haverhill was especially hard hit. Mayor James Fiorentini told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow the rain likely led to a massive sinkhole that forced a five-unit home to be evacuated and will cost the city over $1 million to repair. Despite declaring a state of emergency, Fiorentini said he’s worried the city won’t qualify for federal aid. “The fire chief has been on the force for 30 to 40 years. He says he hasn’t seen anything like it,” Fiorentini said. “Five or six inches came down in about an hour. It was an absolute deluge.”
  • PSA: Haverhill officials are asking residents and business owners to fill out a form describing any damage they experienced from the storm. The deadline is this Thursday.
  • The climate connection: Scientists say the pattern of heavy rainfall we’ve gotten this summer is directly related to climate change.

The wait is over: As of last week, Massachusetts residents can now reap the full benefits of the state’s rebates for buying (or even leasing) a new or used electric car. As WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports, that means up to $5,000 in savings for local EV buyers, including $1,000 for trading in your gas-guzzler.

  • The deets: The program does limit what cars qualify and — under the new rebates for used EVs — how much money you make. Read Miriam’s full explainer here on all the eligibility rules. The state also has a list showing how big the rebate is for each specific EV model, from MINIs to Teslas.
  • Psst: Remember, the state incentives are separate from the federal government’s new EV rebates, which can add up to $7,500 on top of the state’s cash. And yes, you can apply for both.
  • Go deeper: The federal government is also offering sizable carrots to the auto industry to transition to electric. But there’s a big debate around whether the current timeline is doable.

A Falmouth man has pled guilty to sending a bomb threat to Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs over certifying the 2020 election during her tenure as secretary of state. Thirty-eight-year-old James Clark faces up to five years in prison. (He’ll be sentenced in October.)

ICYMI: Healey signed into law her first annual state budget last Wednesday, approving the vast majority of the $56 billion spending bill, which includes a slew of new initiatives and policies. Listen here for a full breakdown of what made it into the budget from WBUR’s Steve Brown. Or read below for a few highlights:

  • Free school lunches, permanently: The budget includes money to permanently extend the pandemic-era program that offers all K-12 students free school meals, regardless of their family’s income. The program will save families up to $1,200 per student per year, according to Senate President Karen Spilka.
  • Free degrees, too: The new “MassReconnect” program will fund free community college for students ages 25 and older without a college degree. The budget will also make nursing programs in the state’s community college system free, too.
  • Free prison calls… soon: Phone calls will be free for inmates in state and county prison, but Healey delayed the start date until December to give officials some wiggle room for implementation.
  • Boston’s seat at the MBTA table: The budget adds two more seats to the MBTA’s Board of Directors — one of which would be appointed by Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. It’s a long-awaited change that Boston had been pushing for for years.

P.S.— Not to get ahead of the final weeks of August, but CitySpace’s fall 2023 lineup is now out! Click here to check out the schedule of speakers and lock down your tickets to events with guests like NPR’s Steve Inskeep to poet Robert Pinsky to local chef Nia Grace.


Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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