Hurrican Earl categorized as a level 4 storm with 145 mph winds yesterday has significantly decreased in forces newly categorized at a level 1 storm. Forecasters following Earl noted it may even lessen to a tropical storm by the time it passes Nantucket. Hurricane Earl has wreaked less havoc than expected as it continues to lose power as it passed through outer coastal areas earlier today. Forcing a 25-minute delay in the New York City U.S. Open and post-poning a Red v White Sox game, residents were thankful damages were detrimental as they could have been.
After sideswiping North Carolina’s Outer Banks with wind speeds of 75mph Earl’s storm drove up the Eastern coast towards Massachusetts today. The storm was expected to stay further out from the coast in passing through the mid-Atlantic region but to near the coastlines of Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard late tonight with high winds and rain.
Governor Deval Patrick sends a word of caution to residents living in areas the hurricane is expected to affect tonight:
“The public should continue to take precautions, in particular stay inside and off the roads during the storm… It’s Mother Nature and she changes her mind quickly.”
– Governor Patrick at news conference at the Massachusetts Emergency management Agency
President Obama had declared a state of emergency in 10 counties today according to FEMA. This declaration was intended to make federal funds available to save lives, protect property, and protect public health. In preparation of Hurrican Earl’s expected visit to Martha’s Vineyard FEMA’s sent a supply of bottled water, the town shelter’s been readied for potential visitors, and 50 – 60 tree workers and linemen have been stationed on the island to clear roads and repair power lines after the storm.
For tips on how to be hurricane prepared please visit the FEMA Ready America website here.
A major water main break in Weston this past Saturday has disrupted water supply to 38 Massachusetts communities and affected more than 2 million people since its burst. The 10-foot diameter pipe’s damage was discovered in an area where two pipes join carrying treated water from the Quabbin reservoir. Although the water main has been repaired today, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) expects the earliest regular service to be restored Wednesday May 5th.
Emergency water has been switched on however is not safe for consumption as the MWRA mandated a “boil-water” order in effect until further notice from Governor Patrick. The boiling water order requires water used for drinking, cooking, other food preparation involving water and brushing teeth. Governor Deval Patrick has administered water testing in more than 400 locations stating he would rather err on the side of caution before removing the boiling ban.
More than residential homes have been effected, restaurants and coffee shops alike have been stalled from the water main break. Unable to wash dishes or churn ice cubes restaurants have been forced to shut down until further notice.
Officials have yet to find the source of this disaster and have been left moderately stumped as the break occurred in a portion of the piping only seven years old and sealed with rubber gaskets. The investigations will continue to not only find the underlying cause of this break, but the risk of another catastrophic burst as well.
Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency yesterday for the second time this month as heavy rain returns to the Bay State. The third heavy rainfall this month brought a total of 11 inches of rain to Boston, a record breaking downfall. The National Weather Service reported areas of Massachusetts experienced 12.8 inches of rain this March. The Weather Service expects this number to rise to more than 15 inches by the end of the day today. Only second to a tropical August in 1955 this is one of the wettest months areas of Massachusetts has ever experienced.
Rivers continue to rise form their already swollen state as the relentless rains continue to fall. National Guard services were activated yesterday for various precautionary tasks in an effort to curb additional flooding from residential areas and businesses. Seven hundred National Guard troops were deployed this morning to help with the storm efforts.
Monday afternoon President Obama replied to Governor Patrick’s request for federal aid declaring the state a federal disaster area bringing federal funding to Massachusetts. Patrick said the funding will be used to bring housing back to a livable state offering grants to homeowners for things such as new water heaters and furnaces for flooded basements. Business owners will also have the opportunity to apply for low interest loans.
During a press conference yesterday the Governor did not call for specific areas to be evacuated however cautioned residents to closely observe the storm and if needed be prepared to evauate. Last night the Charles and Sudbury River levels exceeded flooding stages. Patrick advocated for drivers to use public transportation warning drivers it only takes two feet of standing water to sweep a vehicle away, with the driver in it.
Governor Deval Patrick has written President Obama asking for a declaration of disaster in Massachusetts. This would bring federal funds to residents and businesses who have suffered losses from the recent storm and flooding. Patrick’s office has reported hundreds of homes suffering significant, uninsured damages; more than 1,000 experienced minor but still considerable losses; and many nursing homes have needed to be evacuated. Residents still question whether their homes are safe to live in after sustaining major damages.
His letter to the president cites the record breaking rainfall of 6 to 10 inches in some areas of Bristol, Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex, Plymouth and Suffolk counties. The letter specifically mentions the death of a Middleton resident while he was pumping water out of his business and hospitalization of a Dedham man injured when a sewer pipe burst while removing water from his basement.
“Floodwaters poured into thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses, forcing residents to evacuate and posing health risks associated with sewage backups and mold growth,”
A disaster declaration may open a verity of programs to both residents and businesses according to Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Federal grants may be given to residents to make home repairs and replace heating or electrical systems. Federal funding may also help those who have been displaced due to flooding by helping pay for the temporary housing costs. Disaster programs would be made available to residents in Essex, Middlesex, Worcester, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bristol, and Plymouth counties. Last week Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency officials inspected flooded areas to appreciate damages suffered by homeowners.
Although the rain has held off thus far Massachusetts residents are in for another trying weekend. Pull out your winter jackets and gloves, according to the National Weather Service temperatures are to drop today and tomorrow with a chance of rain.