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Snow, power outages trap workers at home

Several banks across the region closed; restaurants and offices in the dark

No power at the Liquor Barn in Buzzards Bay meant assistant manager Nancy Smith and manager Phil Malouin had to work by candlelight.

STEVE HAINES FOR THE GLOBE

No power at the Liquor Barn in Buzzards Bay meant assistant manager Nancy Smith and manager Phil Malouin had to work by candlelight.

On the first workday since a superstorm brought the region to a halt, businesses in the Boston area on Monday were still digging out, coping with power outages, or having to make do without workers who were plowed in, literally blocked by some of the massive piles of snow that have become temporary monuments to the weekend blizzard.

For those who reached the office, they endured long commutes from the suburbs, morning delays on the MBTA, or a slushy slog to begin the workweek.

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The aftermath of the storm left several banks across the region closed Monday, restaurants and offices in the dark, and employees at home to take care of children who were out of school for the day.

About a third of the temp workers employed by South Shore Staffing in Canton could not make it to their assignments Monday, said Ed Daniels, a controller at the firm. Snowbanks were partially to blame. “They were just stuck, they were plowed in and unable to get out,” he said.

About 800 of the 4,400 employees from Biogen Idec Inc.’s headquarters in Weston and research campus in Cambridge opted to work from home.

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“As I sit at my desk at home, looking down at all the slush on the road, I am very glad I got to stay home today,” said Julie Kerner, associate marketing director for the biotechnology company, who lives in Waltham.

Many workers were also dealing with loss of power at home. At midday Monday, about 93,000 NStar customers and 23,000 National Grid customers were still without electricity.

That kept some of the employees of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce in Quincy from coming into work. “They can’t shower, so I think that has something to do with it,” said Kate Manetas, who oversees member services for the Chamber.

The outage left Alison Edmands, an accountant in Plymouth who works from home, in the dark during her busiest time of year: tax season.

“Everything is locked inside my powerless computer,” said Edmands, who kept her cellphone charged by using the car battery.

Some businesses in the hardest hit areas tried to attract customers by advertising on Facebook and Twitter that their lights were on, they had heat, and free Internet service.

“Still out of power? Looking for some warm food and free Wi-Fi? Panera Bread, Whole Foods Market, and Barnes & Noble at Derby Street Shoppes are great places to warm up and enjoy free Wi-Fi!” Derby Street Shoppes in Hingham posted on its Facebook page on Monday.

Walmart was busy getting its five area stores that closed over the weekend open again by Monday afternoon.

“Unfortunately we don’t have enough generators to handle all of the stores that lose power,” said Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz.

About 75 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants were still closed on late Monday because of outages. And many banks were dark, too.

Bank of America said 12 of its 259 branches in Massachusetts were closed. The bank dispatched a mobile ATM on a truck to park outside a branch in Plymouth that was shut due to a power outage.

But at many offices in Boston and the surrounding areas, it was business as usual on Monday. “The office is full,” said Brenna Fitzgerald, the marketing manager for Brightcove Inc., a digital media company in Boston. “Everyone seemed to get to work OK.”

At Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, only one surgery was postponed Monday while 20 to 25 percent of outpatient visits were delayed or rescheduled due to the weather.

Two of the hospital’s 50 staff members in the internal medicine practice were absent, said hospital spokeswoman Julie Jette. “Our staff is used to the idea that they are essential and people take great pains to make sure they can get in.”

Curry Ace Hardware in Quincy is also used to working through bad weather. All of its employees were on duty Monday as warmer weather and rain brought customers into the store looking for gear to help avoid weather disaster.

“Yesterday it was mostly shovels,” said general manager Mark Vassalli. “Today, it has been roof rakes, it has been ice melt, and it has been sump pumps and water-related things.”

Jenn Abelson, Robert Weisman, and Todd Wallack of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.farrell@globe.com. Katie Johnston can be reached at kjohnston@globe.com.
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