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Residents evacuated and roads blocked as flooding hits Mass. coast

The National Weather Service said it was receiving numerous reports of coastal flooding, and the inundations were getting close to those during the Blizzard of 1978.
The National Weather Service said it was receiving numerous reports of coastal flooding, and the inundations were getting close to those during the Blizzard of 1978.

Flooding from Thursday’s storm battered a number of coastal communities in Massachusetts, rendering main thoroughfares impassable, forcing people from their homes, and compelling first responders to make daring rescues of motorists who became trapped in their vehicles.

Downed power lines forced the closure of Route 6 in Sandwich late Thursday night, according to the State Police.

Troopers responded at about 10 p.m. to a report of the lines. The highway was closed in both directions between exits 1 and 2 while utility crews from Eversource worked to fix the wires, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the State Police.

Earlier in the day, Scituate harbormaster Stephen Mone was rescued from the frigid water, after he fell while trying to move a boat to safety, fire Chief John Murphy said in a brief phone interview.


“He was OK,” Murphy said.

About 20 people were evacuated from their homes, Murphy said, and there was a partial break of the sea wall on Oceanside Drive, Murphy said.

The region’s first major snowfall of 2018 proved treacherous for Scituate public safety workers, an official said.

“They worked very hard to evacuate folks in need,” said Selectman Chairwoman Maura Curran.

People evacuated during high tide were taken either to a town shelter or to stay with friends or family, she said.

A rescue vehicle helped remove residents in Marshfield. John Tlumacki/Globe staff

Much of the town experienced heavy flooding throughout the day. But, by 5 p.m., calls to the town’s emergency center had lessened. Public works employees will be working overnight in the areas where the water recedes to begin clean-up, Curran said.

More than one local at the Inn at Scituate Harbor compared Thursday’s storm to the Blizzard of ’78. Many said they’d never seen the water rise so high so quickly. Some had oceanfront properties on stilts, which meant their properties were safe, but the ocean was rushing through underneath them, spreading rocks around and leaving debris.


“If we were in the house and something happened to us, it’s not easy to rescue us,” town resident Bea Green said. “You couldn’t just walk out of the house. So we choose — when it’s going to be this kind of a storm, we come here.”

Julie Jordan, 71, found herself stranded in Scituate after coming to have lunch with a friend.

“I didn’t anticipate that it was going to be quite this severe,” Jordan said. “If we lose the lights here, that wouldn’t be very pleasant.”

Marshfield fire officials said more than 20 people had to evacuate their houses, and an additional eight or nine people were helped out of their cars after they got stuck in the floodwaters.

Two residents who did not want to spend the night in their home in the flooded Brant Rock section of Marshfield, walked through the flooded streets.John Tlumacki/Globe staff

“The water was up over the doors,” said Deputy fire Chief Louis Cipullo, adding that the displaced people were taken to a temporary shelter at a local middle school.

Fire Chief William Hocking said some people had to be rescued with the aid of high-water vehicles provided by the National Guard.

The storm also hit the power grid in Plymouth.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in a statement that the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station had an unplanned shutdown and had to “manually shut down (scrammed) the reactor after one of the two 345-kilovolt lines that provide power from the grid to the facility became unavailable” shortly after 2 p.m. “Off-site power from the second 345-kilovolt line and a 23-kilovolt line is still in service.”


In Quincy, multiple cars got trapped in water near the Neponset River and along the coast, police said.

Quincy fire officials said about 20 people had been rescued from floodwaters, and the mayor’s office said East Squantum Street, Pawsey Street, Rockland Street, and Sachem Street, along with several smaller streets, were impassable.

In addition, about 10 drivers had called for help after their vehicles became stuck in the storm, Quincy police said.

“We have flooding, disabled cars — it’s tough stuff,” Quincy police Captain James McNeil said. “There’s just so much snow out there.”

Officials opened an emergency shelter at Quincy High School to accommodate residents who had been forced out of their houses because of flooding.

The Chatham Police Department tweeted that parts of Morris Island Road might be “inaccessible due to high tide,” and the Fire Department and harbormaster were deploying assets to assist and evacuate the area. Avoid the area, officials advised.

Chatham police also tweeted that Bridge Street is closed and the Barn Hill town landing is flooded.

Duxbury also saw its share of problems, including “several water rescues and [a] reported house fire,” said fire Captain Rob Reardon, a department spokesman, on Twitter. He also tweeted that waves were “crashing” and “streets completely under water.”

“Roads are completely IMPASSABLE!!” Reardon wrote. “Stay off the roads!”

Other Duxbury issues included a water rescue on Pine Point Road and downed wires in several locations, according to a regional dispatch center that services the town. Information on the rescue wasn’t immediately available.


And one Duxbury firefighter was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries suffered during a crash because of icy roads, officials said. Further details of the incident weren’t available.

“Thankfully just minor injuries,” Duxbury police tweeted.

North of Boston, in Chelsea, at least seven people were rescued in a two-hour span from submerged vehicles on streets close to ocean water Thursday afternoon, Deputy fire Chief Robert Houghton said.

Boston Firefighters wade through flood waters from Boston Harbor in front of the Marriott Long Warf hotel.Steve Annear/Globe Staff

The department responded between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m. Four rescues occurred on Eastern Avenue, two on Beacham Street, and one on Market Street, he said. No injuries were reported.

In Salem, storm surge flooded streets in the Collins Cove and Salem Willows neighborhoods, Police Lieutenant Brian Gilligan said Thursday night.

A l0w-lying commerial area of Bridge Street, a main entrypoint into the city, experienced severe flooding and forced to close, Gilligan said.

In the Willows, over 40 households were isolated for four hours after high tide rushed in around 12:30 p.m. leaving behind street-level flooding, Deputy Fire Chief Keith Pelletier said.

The fire department could not get to the residents until around 4:30 p.m.

They closed off two sections of Bridge Street the moment the tide came in — one from Goodhue Street to Flint Street and the other from Flint Street to the T station — he said.

“It was amazing how quickly it came in,” Pelletier said.


Water on Bridge Street reached three to four feet deep, he said.

Five drivers drove into the water and had to abandon their vehicles which “essentially became part of the North River,” Pelletier said.

Among them were a Domino’s pizza delivery man, Pelletier said. The pizza was never delivered.

“Two of our guys went in and carried him back. It was a joke that they were going to go back and save the pizza,” he said.

On Plum Island, five residents were evacuated from their homes during high tide and brought to a warming shelter on the barrier island. They returned to their homes about three hours later, the Newbury Fire Department said in a statement Thursday night.

Newburyport police said on Twitter that officers also battled high waters on Plum Island.

“A few people being evacuated on #PlumIsland due to flooding,” the Police Department tweeted. “We have [emergency] personnel on the island.” Elsewhere in Newburyport, parking lots at Cashman Park and soccer fields “are currently under water,” the department said.

The National Weather Service said a number of additional coastal communities had reported flooding by the afternoon, including Dennis, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Gloucester, and Nantucket.

Dennis police said Route 6A at Paddocks Path, Bridge Street in East Dennis, and Route 6A at Airline Road were all closed to traffic because of flooding.

Barnstable town officials said in a statement that there had been flooding in coastal areas on the north side of town because of high tides and wind pushing water onshore.

“If you must travel, please be aware that . . . driving will become hazardous,” the statement said.

A Barnstable fire dispatcher said residents on multiple streets were being evacuated from their homes, but the precise number of displaced people wasn’t immediately available.

A slushy mix of ice and water submerged parts of Winthrop Thursday afternoon, stranding vehicles and submerging roads.

The stretch of Route 145 that runs along Short Beach was closed to vehicle traffic as waves crashed over the sea wall and flooded the area. By midday, the flooding was so severe that a woman walking to a residence across from the beach had to wade in water up to her knees.

Al Legee, the town’s commissioner of Inspectional Services, drove a pickup truck to get around.

“People are struggling, basically. It’s really tough,” he said.

On the other side of town, police cruisers were stationed on Shirley Street to keep vehicles off the flooded road. A front-end loader drove through icy flood waters to assist with emergency operations in Point Shirley because fire trucks and police vehicles were in danger of getting stuck there.

Outside the Winthrop Yacht Club, freezing waters lapped at the building’s stairwell and a blue cooler floated down the road amid blocks of ice floating in from the ocean.

Megan Yeremian, who lives nearby, watched the scene in disbelief.

“I’ve never seen the water that high,” she said. “When the icebergs come on the street, it’s definitely a different level.”

Hobbyists also braved the elements in Plymouth.

On Manomet Point, amateur storm chaser Paul Maravelias parked his sport utility vehicle at the edge of the steep oceanfront promontory and flipped open a laptop. A anemometer mounted on his car roof spun wildly in the buffeting wind gusts, measuring their speed, as Maravelias closely tracked the numbers on his screen.

A software engineer from New Hampshire, he said he has been chasing nor’easters since 2011, driven by his fascination with the storms and by his belief that New England’s extreme weather is too often overlooked.

Travis Andersen, Evan Allen, David Abel and Martin Finucane of the Globe Staff and Globe Correspondents Laney Ruckstahl and Margeaux Sippell contributed to this report. Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.