As the historic winter storm pounded the North Shore Saturday afternoon, Marblehead resident Troy Anderson, 51, and his daughter Lyndsey, 10, decided to brave the blizzard and take a walk to the ocean to check out what damage the neighborhood had sustained.
They trekked toward the Goldthwait Reservation, a nonprofit land trust of approximately 12 acres that includes a beach and a salt marsh. Along Phillips Street, which leads to the reservation, the snow was coming down with intensity.
The Andersons were not expecting to see what was swimming ahead in the street.
As they approached the area, a few other neighbors were gazing down at the flooded street as a baby eel and small fish were fighting the currents, trying to get back to their salt-marsh home. The small fish, called mummichogs , live in coastal waters in Eastern Massachusetts.
Not only did the blizzard tear through the region dumping more than 2 feet of snow on the North Shore, but it dragged animals out of their delicate ecosystem.
“As we were peering down looking at the fish, this baby eel, which was still alive, came swirling by,” Anderson said. “It was the weirdest-looking thing I had ever seen. It wasn’t a worm, it wasn’t a snake, it was a baby eel. The ocean was coming over the rocks, forcing out some of the creatures that are normally in the marsh.”
Lyndsey Anderson used a plastic bag that was in her coat pocket to try to scoop some of the fish from the flooded street.
With the help of her father, Lyndsey was only able to save a few fish and throw them back in the marsh.
The rest froze to death, Anderson said.
“I had never seen that before and we’ve lived there for over 15 years,” he said. “It brought home how big the storm was, how big the waves were, and the fact that we live in a maritime environment. How many times can you see a storm surge bring fish swimming onto the street?”
Fiona Lubbock, a trustee at the reservation and active volunteer, has lived on Goldthwait Road for more than 20 years and goes down to the reservation at least once a day to pick up trash. She was in the midst of the storm’s chaos as the Andersons were rescuing the fish.
“People question, well it’s just a swamp,” Lubbock said. “But it isn’t just a swamp. It’s a delicate and important ecosystem that needs to be protected and cared for.”
Troy Anderson has walked his golden retriever, Sarah, to and from the reservation a few times since his encounter with the fish and baby eel, and said that everything looks back to normal and the flooding has subsided.
“We were amazed seeing all the water,” Anderson said. “Now all the signs of the water are gone.”
One reason for driving ban
Melrose resident Tim McIntire was shoveling his driveway about noon on Saturday when he and his next-door neighbor witnessed a snow-covered sedan with two men inside “zipping up the hill.”
The car drove into the intersection at Upham and Lebanon streets, striking another vehicle driven by an employee of nearby Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. The 34-year-old driver of the sedan was cited by police for a red-light violation and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Police Lieutenant Mark DeCroteau noted that the driver was not exempt from the governor’s travel ban.
For McIntire, who had listened to friends complain about the ban, watching the fire truck, ambulance, police cruiser, and tow truck respond to the call provided a good example of its necessity.
“They had to divert all these resources just because these people were out driving around,” he said. “Luckily, there wasn’t a little old lady with a heart attack who was unable to get help because emergency personnel were tied up dealing with these knuckleheads.”
‘Snow Angels’ help dig out
Twenty-eight students enlisted in Revere High’s Army JROTC Patriot Battalion launched Operation Snow Angels during the storm. Armed with shovels, they cleared sidewalks, driveways, and stairs for city residents, many of them elderly or disabled. Most had called City Hall looking for help during the storm. The Patriot Battalion did such a good job, Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo is hoping to enlist some civilians to volunteer for snow shoveling during future storms. E-mail him at email@example.com.