Region digs back toward routine

Cold, more snow could hamper the cleanup

A region knocked off balance by a historic blizzard slowly regained its footing Wednesday, as roads reopened, train service resumed, and residents shoveled their way out from more than 2 feet of snow.

Cleanup efforts were hindered by below-freezing temperatures, which are expected to persist for several days. Making matters worse, a storm could bring 2 to 4 inches of snow to Eastern Massachusetts early Friday, and snow or rain could arrive Sunday or Monday.

“We will be severely challenged because the cold is already on us,’’ said Beverly Scott, general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.


Not all routine was restored Wednesday; in Boston, which recorded 24.6 inches of snow, schools were closed Thursday, complicating childcare arrangements for parents for a third day.

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“I have grave concerns about the status of our sidewalks and the well-being of students walking to and from their bus stops, or needing to stand in the street when they are waiting for the bus,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement.

In coastal towns battered by crashing waves, residents took stock of the damage.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Jennifer Bruno, whose Marshfield apartment was badly damaged after the storm cast rocks and debris into her living room and kitchen. “It’s destroyed.”

At least five homes have been condemned in the area after parts of two sea walls gave way.


“It’s pretty bad,” Marshfield Police Chief Phillip Tavares said Wednesday as officials surveyed the aftermath. “We’re going to have to just wait and see and assess and evaluate what has been done. We’re going to pull through this.”

Marshfield resident Jim Asadoorian, 72, had gone without power since early Tuesday morning.

“It’s not warm,” he said of his home. “Far from warm.”

Statewide, just over 1,000 customers remained without power late Wednesday night, down from 34,000 at one point Tuesday. Most of the lingering outages were on Nantucket, which went completely dark during the storm.

Governor Charlie Baker, who toured Nantucket and met with officials from hard-hit Scituate, said he is likely to seek federal assistance to help with cleanup costs. He expressed satisfaction with the response to the blizzard.


“Despite the fact that we had record-breaking snowfall in many parts of Massachusetts, we’ve come out of this, I think, in relatively good shape,” Baker said at a morning news conference.

He said he had “no regrets” about issuing a statewide driving ban, which was in effect from midnight Monday until midnight Tuesday. But he said he would be judicious in taking similar steps in the future.

“I don’t view this as something you would do except in extreme situations,” he said. “I do not want the travel ban to become the first lever that everyone pulls every time we have a snowstorm.’’

Other officials agreed the scope of the damage was surprising, given the severity of the storm.

A light and fluffy snowfall prevented more extensive power outages.

“For a major storm, it was incredibly low,” said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the state’s emergency management agency. “I think restoration is going to be pretty quick.”

Auburn, Hudson, and Lunenburg each were hit with 3 feet of snow, according to unofficial totals from the National Weather Service.

More than 34 inches fell in Worcester, a city record, and the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in Milton received 30.8 inches, the second-highest snowfall there since the late 1800s.

A day after the prolonged, powerful storm — the sixth-largest storm in Boston in more than a century — street crews fanned out in force Wednesday to clear snow-choked roads.

The snow and cold caused delays and cancellations across the public transportation system Wednesday, and more than 40 bus lines were diverted to snow routes. Riders were urged to check service updates before traveling.

The commuter rail was also delayed, with nearly 30 trains canceled during the morning commute.

Keolis Commuter Services, which operates the commuter rail for the MBTA, said the system was restored in just six hours.

“That, to us, is a big success,” said spokesman Mac Daniel.

Stephanie Pollack, the state’s incoming transportation secretary, said she expected Keolis to quickly improve.

“They signed on to a no-excuses contract and we are going to be looking for a better performance,’’ she said.

New Bedford’s mayor said a 53-year-old city man died after shoveling snow during this week’s blizzard.

State Police issued three summonses for violating the travel ban. One was issued to a New Hampshire driver of a commercial van who police said was speeding on Interstate 95 and ignored attempts to pull him over.

They also cited the driver of a tractor-trailer that jackknifed in West Stockbridge. Police said they had previously warned the driver to get off the road after making a delivery to Home Depot.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said the roads were generally quiet Wednesday, with only two significant accidents.

In Boston, Walsh thanked residents for their cooperation during the storm and asked for their patience as cleanup efforts continue.

“We’re going to get to your street,” he said earlier at a news conference.

The city will open two “snow farms” to dump plowed snow, and will use three high-volume snow-melting machines.

On Nantucket, officials were working with the Coast Guard to do a flyover search for people in need of help. Police have received calls from people who live in remote areas and are running out of fuel for their generators.

Nantucket Police Chief William Pittman said it was the worst storm he had seen in his 10 years on the island. Some unpaved streets may be covered in as much as 6 feet of snow and will take time to clear, he said.

“It was pretty wicked,” Pittman said. “The snow was coming down sideways. You could hardly be outside. The snow would actually sting you.”

In Marshfield, Tim Mannix had planned to ride out the storm, but was injured when a wave crashed through his oceanfront home.

“I was pushing my dinner table against the sliding glass door to hold it in place, and kapow!” he said. “I never saw it coming.”

Mannix, a 58-year-old fisherman, needed 22 stitches for a gash that ran above his left eye and down his nose.

“I knew I was in trouble when I looked in the mirror,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mannix returned home to see rocks the size of bowling balls covering the basement floor. He said he is sure his house will be condemned.

“I have no idea what I’ll do,” he said. “For now I’m staying with a friend.”

Globe correspondents Jack Newsham and Melissa Hanson, and John Tlumacki, Joshua Miller, Andrew Ryan, Andy Rosen, Nicole Dungca, and John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was also included.