News, Weather

A tough (and dark) day in Swampscott as a blizzard keeps the lights out

SWAMPSCOTT — Many residents of the seaside town had to cope with power outages during the slow-moving blizzard on Tuesday.

For most of the first half of the day on Tuesday, close to 1,000 of the town’s National Grid customers were without power, with that figure as high as 1,673 around 9 a.m., or about a quarter of the town.

The town finally started to get some relief around 3:30 p.m. when the number of customers in the dark dropped to 247, down from nearly 1,000 a half hour earlier. By 5 p.m., power had been restored to all customers, according to MEMA’s outage map.

The areas in town that lost power throughout the day included Humphrey Street, Aspen Road, Salem Street, Phillips Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Magnolia Road, Beach Bluff Avenue, Shelton Road, Bradley Avenue and Stanley Road — residents in those areas experienced a loss of power for a few hours, according to Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald.

“Anytime we lose power, it’s a scary situation,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the impact on people with medical needs or the general effect of people dealing with frigid temperatures.

“These are serious public safety issues and we have to deal with these issues very carefully,” he added.

Fitzgerald praised utility crews from National Grid, who worked to restore power in Swampscott throughout the day. He also praised the work of department of public works, police and fire crews for their work this past month, referring to their effort during Tuesday’s storm and the other Nor’easters in March.

Fitzgerald said Swampscott, which sees high winds and coastal impact from storms, may have seen more power outages than surrounding communities because of its density — the town is the fifth most densely settled town in Massachusetts. There could be some logistics associated with the density of the community that impacts infrastructure differently.

But luckily, this time around, there wasn’t the same problem with coastal flooding as there was with this winter’s previous Nor’easters. This storm, he said there was a much lower high tide, compared to the astronomical high tide from the past two storms, which brought significant flooding. This time around, he said areas that usually flood, such as Humphrey Street were spared.

But Fitzgerald said although coastal flooding wasn’t an issue this time around, it remains a serious one that town officials have to discuss, in regards to resiliency and how to protect certain areas.

“When we lose a major arterial road due to flooding, that’s a significant public safety challenge,” he said.


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