Nor'easter pummels tri-town, many still without power

Mar 14, 2018

Thousands remain without power after the third nor'easter in as many weeks slammed the tri-town with snow and heavy winds on Tuesday, making travel treacherous and prompting school closures.

By Tuesday afternoon, 56 percent of Rochester residents, 64 percent of Mattapoisett residents and 97 percent of Marion residents were without power. Those numbers fluctuated throughout the evening and into Wednesday.

“The biggest frustration is not knowing when the power is coming back on,” Marion Police Chief John Garcia said. “Just getting accurate information from Eversource has been a challenge.”

Normally, Marion opens a warming center at Sippican School, but due to damage to a pole nearby, Garcia said the department decided to work in collaboration with the Mattapoisett Police Department.

“A pole is broken and just pretty much being held up by the wires,” Garcia said. “We were worried that the continued winds could topple it. So we pooled our resources and, this time, we sheltered overnight.”

Old Rochester Regional High School was opened at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday to provide warmth, shelter and power to charge phones and laptops. All schools in the Old Rochester school district were closed on March 13 and March 14.

“We had about three or four stay overnight,” Garcia said. “There were 20 to 24 when I was there [Wednesday]. At least it gives people a warm place to sit while they charge their devices.”

Though the storm had passed, problems persisted Wednesday, Mattapoisett Police Officer Justin King said.

“We still have a lot of wires down and a lot of roads blocked,” King said. “Our biggest obstacle was trees down and poles down and getting to where we needed to get to. We’re still dealing with that today.”

In Marion, Garcia said he’s struggling to plan for the immediate future because of the uncertainty of when power will be restored.

“We’re trying to plan for the shelters,” he said. “How long do we need to keep shelters open? And do we need to move [people] to regional shelters?”

In Rochester, Police Chief Paul Magee said losing power multiples times over the past few weeks has been frustrating.

“The back-to-back storms have been difficult for residents,” he said. “They’re getting power, losing power, getting power, losing power.”

Magee said the department fielded 78 calls from 7 a.m. to midnight, the vast majority of which were utility-related calls.

“We had roads closed all over the place because of the wires down,” he said. “We have no way to tell if those wires are live or not, so they can’t be moved and we can’t work around them. Until Eversource can come out and confirm, we’re kind of stuck.”

Additionally, Magee said trees were blocking roadways and couldn’t be moved because they were tangled with electrical wires. As of Wednesday afternoon, however, Eversource has been able to get on scene and most of those issues has been resolved.

“There are a couple areas where we’re still doing work, but none of those areas are isolated,” he said. “There are other routes in and out.”

There was one tree that came down on a home, but Magee said nobody was injured.

A warming shelter was opened at the Rochester Senior Center on Dexter Lane, where officials said nine or 10 people spent the night. It's estimated that about 80 people filtered in throughout the day Tuesday, and as of Wednesday afternoon, the shelter remained open.

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