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Flood Effects Felt Across the Region

Flood Effects Felt Across the Region

Fire hydrant on a flooded Harriet Thayer Drive in Attleboro.

The Sun Chronicle via YellowBrix

March 31, 2010

Attleboro Council on Aging Director Madeleine McNeilly said Levin and outreach worker Melissa Tucker were busy much of the day fielding calls from worried seniors, as well as neighbors and city employees calling to get them help.

With each call, Levin and Tucker sought to determine the extent of the water damage, and whether it would interfere with the home’s electricity, McNeilly said.

Bristol Elder Services Director of Planning Trish Hunter said her agency delivered meals as planned, although a few people might have gone without.

“There were a few clients we weren’t able to deliver to because of road closures.”

On a day like Tuesday, communication between all of a town’s emergency response personnel is paramount.

That was why Mansfield officials decided to take over a town hall meeting room, making sure everyone was in the same place and on the same page.

Officials from the police, fire, public works, emergency management, along with the school superintendent, town manager and members of the board of selectmen, commandeered the selectmen’s meeting room and turned it into a make-shift command center.

By bringing everyone physically together, the town was able to address issues and trouble spots quickly, ensuring a smooth collaboration between different departments.

“We’ve all been here together all day,” Town Manager Bill Ross said.

Town officials used projectors to beam weather forecasts and the town geographic information system (GIS)onto the wall so everyone could see the trouble spots.

Ross said the GIS system pays for itself on a day like Tuesday, when emergency personnel can easily see the proximity of homes and other trouble spots to sewer drains, railroad tracks and roadways.

As part of the meeting, school officials were able to keep up to date on road closings, alerting bus drivers to change their routes, and uniting student volunteers with public works crews who needed help bagging sand.

It may have been raining cats and dogs, but that didn’t stop people from lining up outside The Home Depot in South Attleboro early Tuesday morning.

Manager Josh Dube said at least 25 people were waiting in the heavy downpours at 6 a.m. for the chance to be the first to enter the store to get much-needed pumps, wet vacs, buckets, mops and anything else that could possibly help dry up and clean up the mess that the storm caused.

By 5 p.m., 2,500 customers had stopped by the store, a number Dube said compares to a busy Saturday – so busy, in fact, that Dube said he will keep the store open 24 hours to make sure anyone who needs cleanup equipment can get it.

Tuesday night, customers were still pouring in, and waiting in line, for pumps and other supplies.

Dube said the South Attleboro store was receiving shipments from a distribution warehouse, as well as other area stores, to deal with the increased demand.

Over at Lowe’s in North Attleboro, every pump had been sold by late afternoon and only a few shop vacs remained.

“It’s been nonstop all day,” an employee said. “They’ve bought it all.”

Meanwhile, over at Advance Auto Parts on County Street, customers were coming in droves to buy windshield wiper blades as early as Monday night, said Eddie Fontes Lobo, an employee at the store.

Firefighters closed off Walker Street, which connects Oak and North Worcester streets, late Tuesday morning.

At 2 Taylor Court, on the Oak Street side of Walker, a wall of two rows of sandbags lined Mike Skirkanich’s garage.

The fire department provided Skirkanich with sand after he had gone to Home Depot to get sandbags, and “they didn’t have any more.”

“If it stays like this, I should be OK, unless it rains harder,” said Skirkanich, who lives next to a small pond.

“This morning, it was in here. It was coming in the garage.”

More than a half mile away, Fieldstone Circle resident Dave Lenihan said he saw no water in his basement at midnight.

Around 6 a.m., “I had 4 inches. Now it’s just over 8,” Lenihan said while firefighters helped a neighbor.

Lenihan said he found a submersible water pump at Home Depot, “but it’s not enough to keep ahead of it.”

“I’m going to lose my furnace. I’m going to lose my water heater,” Lenihan said.

“I hope Mr. Patrick gets (the area declared) a disaster area, and FEMA steps in.”

Plainville highway crews erected a dike on West Bacon Street during Tuesday’s deluge.

That just meant less water spilled onto Jeff Williams’ property at 17 Elizabeth St., because the rain was so intense.

A few weeks ago, Williams told selectmen he found nearly 3 feet of water in his basement after the town received more than 2 inches of rain during a nor’easter. He told selectmen that town officials told him a town-owned culvert apparently became blocked by tree roots.

Tuesday, Williams said his wife noticed the drain was clogged again while driving that morning.

“After they put the dike in, it slowed down,” he said.

Williams said he is awaiting word from Plainville’s insurance company.