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Mindful of storm’s severity, Scituate takes wait in stride

SCITUATE — As generators hummed, residents of the hard-hit coastline here gathered torn shingles, tree limbs, heavy rocks, and other storm-strewn debris from their driveways and yards.

Across town at the high school, a police officer lifted a woman in a wheelchair over a curb and guided her into the cafeteria that served as a shelter for those who have lost power. Those in the mostly elderly crowd of about 150 have been sleeping on cots, playing board games and trying to find out when they will get power back.

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Residents of this town are both weather-hardened and storm weary, in love with the seaside setting but always aware that it often bears the brunt of storms.

“You could hear the waves hitting those homes over there,” said Joseph Spinzola, 59, who has lived on Rebecca Road for four years and grew up in town. “At the height of the storm, they went 20 feet over the roofs.

“Some people are comparing it to ‘78,” he said. “I don’t think it’s on that scale, but it’s close. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s spectacular and is a mess to clean.”

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On Monday, rocks weighing more than 30 pounds lay strewn in streets and several patios. Deck staircases and utility poles had been dislodged by high winds and pounding saltwater. Four-inch-thick jagged chunks of asphalt paving formed heaps.

Joseph Spinzola

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Joseph Spinzola has piles of storm debris, including his neighbor's deck, all over his yard. He has been feeding neighbors who have no heat and hot water.

The town said Monday that about 60 percent of homes were still without power and that all public schools and municipal offices will be closed Tuesday.

Spinzola said he is hoping to get power back later this week. But he saw a bright side.

“We have red wine and some good food and a generator,” said Spinzola, who works as a cook and was offering meals to neighbors.

Many residents talked about a visit by Governor Deval ­Patrick earlier in the day and were optimistic that their plight would get attention based on his appearance.

“I’ve heard rumors that the electricity would be on by noontime Tuesday, but the governor was here, so maybe that will speed things up,” said Bob ­Loring, a lifelong resident, whose red-brick house on ­Rebecca Road was not damaged, though the electricity went out.

Rick Murray, a member of the Board of Selectmen, estimated that it will take days ­before National Grid gets everyone back on line.

He said he saw significant damage, not only along the coastline but inland, as heavy snow accumulated on trees, roofs, and power lines and as lashing winds whipped through town.

“Just in my neighborhood, the Third Cliff district, we had a very large pine tree,” Murray said.

“The trunk is 2 feet wide. The whole thing came down and pulled down all the power lines and snapped the telephone pole in half.”

Murray saw a victory amid the destruction, saying the massive sea wall was not breached.

Many neighborhood roads remained squeezed by snowbanks. Repair crews seemed to be everywhere, as bucket trucks hoisted workers and as police diverted traffic to other streets.

At the shelter, some people went home after learning that their power had been restored.

“It went off at my house on Friday night,” said Robin Parr, 59, who has lived in Scituate for 29 years. “It’s back now — I just found out in the last hour — so I’m relieved.”

“It was a good experience,” Parr said. “They fed us well. I never had to stay at a shelter ­before, but it was a good experience. I slept on a cot with a blanket and a pillow, so again, everything was good.”

Nita Strode said she was one of two members of Scituate’s Community Emergency ­Response Team, or CERT, who volunteered at the shelter.

“It was hard work, but I’m strong,” she said.

“I’ve been helping out since Saturday, and now I’m going to find out if my own lights are back on at home.”

Brian Ballou can be reached at bballou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou.
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