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In Scituate, waiting and watching as a storm roils the ocean

SCITUATE — As the wind of what’s being billed as a blizzard of historic proportions tossed Max Hirsch and his buddy, Jake Casey, around at the Scituate Lighthouse today, their minds were on the sea.

They really wanted to be out there surfing.

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“Our parents wouldn’t let us,” said 12-year-old Max. “But I can see why. It’s really windy.”

So instead, they stood in driving sleet and freezing temperatures, along with Max’s mom and dog, Tater, to check out the waves. To Jake they were “just a wind swell. They’re wind waves. They probably wouldn’t be here without the wind.”

Like Max and Jake, many in Scituate, a coastal town familiar with nor’easters and the surge they bring, waited to see if the blizzard would make good on its promise to deliver high winds, surging waves, and deep snow. They’d already ransacked stores, stocking up on food and gas. Now there was nothing left to do but heed town administrators’ advice “to use common sense and caution.”

Marybrigid Vanaria was out for a brisk three-mile walk with her neighbor’s dog this afternoon. “Right now it’s the between stage; it’s waiting for it to happen,” she said. “I’m hoping we don’t lose power. Other than that, I’m looking forward to digging snow. I like it. I’m that crazy person.”

Throughout the day, a wet heavy snow fell, covering dogwalkers, joggers, and roadways in cold slush, signaling that Vanaria might just get her wish.

And while residents were heeding the town’s warnings to take the storm seriously, there might be differences of opinion about what constitutes caution and common sense. Many in the coastal areas didn’t evacuate, despite the advice of town officials. Those living along the seawall, which is prone to flooding during storms, particularly at high tide, planned to stay put.

Rick Harrington was planted inside his oceanside home, much like he was during the nor’easter of 2010 that destroyed part of the seawall, knocked out power, and flooded streets. The difference this time is that his wife planned to stay with their children, though he was doubtful she’d follow through.

He remembers looking out his third-floor office window two years ago and seeing a wave. It was 3 a.m. and he was heading to work in Boston.

“A wave came up and hit this window three and a half hours before high tide,” he said pointing to a window about 50 feet above the sea. “I went ‘Oh my God. I’m in trouble. ‘ “

He screwed pieces of plywood to the window frame, jumped in his truck and left as waves crashed against the side of his vehicle. “The moral of the story is: I didn’t get out in time.”

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