News, Police/Fire, Weather

Flash flood submerges parts of Lynn and Peabody

A flat bed plowing through the water on Boston Street in Lynn. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN—Heavy downpours over the North Shore brought more than 8 inches of rain Sunday morning, submerging parts of Lynn, Peabody and the surrounding area. Parts of downtown, including the Daily Item’s office, were treated to fast rising waters pouring up through sewer grates and between cracks in doorways.

Dispatchers for the police and fire departments have responded to nearly 150 calls from residents. As of 6 p.m., National grid reported more than 500 customers were without power. At one point during the day, the company had turned off power to 600 customers as a precaution in some flooded areas.

State Police diverted traffic from the Lynnway, and Lynn Police reported parts of Boston, Marion and Commercial streets were impassable at the height of the flooding. Other roads with significant standing water included Bennett, Ford, Munroe and River streets.

Lynn Public Works crews barricaded roads so people don’t drive through the standing water, DPW Commissioner Andrew Hall said.

“It was an extreme amount of rain,” Hall said.

Lynn Fire Capt. Joseph Zukas said fire crews responded to reports of people trapped in cars, flooded basements and ceiling collapses due to heavy water loads.


Residents begin long cleanup process

In Wyoma Square, Meadow Court resident Kelly Webber watched shortly before noon Sunday as firefighters assisted her 74-year-old mother, Irene, who uses a wheelchair, into a boat to ferry her across a flooded parking lot at the elderly housing complex.

Kelly Webber tried to use towels to prevent water from seeping under her ground-floor apartment door shortly after 7 a.m. When the flood started soaking her living room floor, she called for help. Neighbor Joan Harding said the flood deposited an inch of water in her 56 Meadow Court apartment.

“It flooded 10 years ago but nothing like this,” Harding said.

Torrential rains turned the intersection of Boston and Ford streets into a lake, causing significant flooding on nearby Allerton Street. Across the city on Shepard Street, Piero Procopio watched water pouring out of a pipe in his basement where he and his brother set up three pumps to get rid of four feet of water. He anticipated the boilers in both homes were destroyed by the flood and said work needs to be done to prevent flooding at Shepard and the Lynnway.

“It’s been getting a lot worse in the last few years,” Procopio said.

Sunday’s heavy rains also spelled bad news for 501 Washington St. resident Angel Mejias, who awoke at midnight to the sound of his car alarm. Looking out his window, he saw the car floating a half a block away in the middle of Munroe Street.

By noon Sunday, he was bailing the BMW’s interior out with a cup and wondering how he was going to get to his job in Brockton on Monday morning.


Firefighters work to help people recover

Between some of the hardest hit areas of Lynnway, Commercial Street, Boston Street and Ford Street, 10 people had to be rescued from their vehicles as of early Sunday afternoon.

Zukas said the fire department was using two of their small inflatable boats to get people out of their vehicles and houses. There were flooded, impassable streets citywide.

“It looks like the worst is over,” Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer said early Sunday afternoon. “We don’t anticipate needing the inflatables any longer.”

Fire crews also worked to get approximately five people out of Meadow Court, Zukas said.

Zukas said heavy rains typically cause flooding in certain problems areas of the city such as Boston Street and the Lynnway, but in this case, it was more widespread, making it more difficult for emergency crews.

“This seems to be throughout the city so (it is) much more of a massive scale that we normally encounter,” Zukas said. “It’s more problematic for us.”


Lynn mayor: City will seek state assistance

Mayor Thomas M. McGee said city officials and the city’s emergency management team are assessing storm damage before applying for disaster relief funding from the state and federal government, a process he expects will continue over the next few days.

McGee said the city has to hit a certain threshold of monetary damage to qualify for funding from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He’s reached out to U.S. Rep Seth Moulton’s (D-Mass) office, along with the Lynn delegation, including Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) to see what funds are available.

As of 4:30 p.m., McGee said the water still hadn’t receded in several parts of the city. But thankfully, during the heaviest amount of rain, the city wasn’t at high tide, which would have made matters worse.

“I can’t remember 8 inches of rain falling in a several-hour period in a long, long time,” McGee said. “It’s pretty intense. It’s really impacted the city substantially so we’ve got everyone out and about the city trying to assess what happened.”

The mayor said there’s not much the city could have done to prepare for the storm, which no one saw coming. He kept an eye on the radar and when he watched the weather at 8 p.m. on Saturday, there was no indication that there was this type of rain coming.

“Unless you know and it says 8 inches of rain, (it’s a) challenge to be prepared for something that weather reports didn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary was coming,” McGee said. “There’s not much you can do when you get 8 inches of rain in two hours.”

McGee said the plan is for officials to connect and talk about what the city has learned from the storm and how they can be prepared for anticipated and unanticipated events.

Lynn Water and Sewer Commission executive director Daniel O’Neill said the flooding wasn’t due to any problems with the catch basins, which are cleaned annually. Water finally started receding after 1 p.m., several hours after heavy rains started falling.

“Eight inches of rain over a two to three hour period just overtakes the system,” O’Neill said. “We do our best to minimize flooding but it’s going to occur.”


Flooding fouls paint needed for mural festival

Heavily affected by flooding was the Beyond Walls Festival’s main warehouse for supplies in the back on Beden Hardware on Munroe Street, according to Al Wilson, founder and executive director of Beyond Walls.

Rain destroyed supplies in the midst of the second annual mural festival, which is scheduled to wrap up next Sunday.

Wilson said there was an effort early Sunday morning to salvage supplies out of the storage room, but they became worried about electricity and had to abandon the building. He said the door had buckled at that point and cans were floating everywhere, including out of the building.

Cleanup has been underway since then, Wilson reported shortly before 6 p.m., with plans to keep going throughout the night. Liquid paint, generators and lighting were all underwater. A cardboard box containing spray paint was disintegrated so all of the paint had mixed, he said.

“Right now, we’re trying to clean everything and make an assessment for what was damaged or ruined, (and) figure out what that will cost to get new supplies and rush them in,” Wilson said. “With 25 artists in town right now, the challenge is to get them their stuff in time to do the pieces. They can’t be on wall (Monday) so it’s going to be a real rush to finish the festival.”

Wilson said Beyond Walls has kicked off a 24-hour fundraising drive to help their neighbor businesses on Munroe Street recover from the storm damage, which expires at 4 p.m. on Monday.

“Beyond Walls is part of this community and we want to use our channels and our reach to aid our neighbors so that’s what this drive is to do, help our neighbors and help the community on Munroe Street,” Wilson said.

To donate, visit the Munroe Street Fundraising Page. All of the proceeds will go to neighbors, not the festival, Wilson said.


Peabody Square spared, side streets submerged

In Peabody, Ward 1 City Councilor Jon Turco said the downpour spared Peabody Square from the flooding that has left it underwater in past storms, but side streets like Foster were inundated.

Lynnfield Street was flooded and Goldthwait Brook overtopped flooding Quail Road Sunday morning. The heavy rain came four days after the city stepped up its commitment to clear debris from Goldthwait and other local brooks and streams in order to reduce storm-related flooding.

Turco said Mountain Terrace and Granite Road were also hard-hit with the storm’s ferocity, ripping asphalt off Mountain Terrace. He praised the quick response by city agencies to deal with the flooding.

“Fire, DPW, police were all out there doing their damnedest,” Turco said.

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