Rain Check: High Winds and Lots of Rain, but Most of City is Spared from Big Hurricane Irene

Unless one lives on Revere Beach Boulevard, then Hurricane Irene turned out to be nothing more than a passing fancy.

City officials were careful to plan for all contingencies late last week as Hurricane Irene trudged up the East Coast and made a b-line for Massachusetts.

Flood precautions were taken.

Tidegates were cleaned and repaired.

The Pines Fire Station was re-opened for the weekend.

And Revere High School was on standby in case the storm became a far-reaching disaster and large amounts of people needed to seek shelter.

As it happened, flooding did not become an issue and, though the winds reached about 70 mph at Logan Airport, no major damages were reported. Officials had been worried that the storm might coincide with astronomical high tides that were scheduled to occur over the weekend, but Fire Chief Gene Doherty said that the timing worked in the City’s favor.

“There was nothing major,” he said. “There were numerous trees down and wires down and some people without power, but really we didn’t get hit as bad as we thought we might. The tide was definitely with us when the storm hit. The worst of it came at mid-tide and it allowed the water to get out before the surge came. The wind direction had also changed so it didn’t push the water in. There were some pretty big waves, but there wasn’t a lot of flooding, fortunately.”

Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said that he was waiting all day Sunday for calls reporting flood conditions. However, he never got any.

“I didn’t get any of the calls that I typically get, so I decided to call around to people,” he said. “Everyone told me that things were fine. We’ve spent a lot of money on flood control so I’m thinking it was money well spent. In places like Arcadia Street, during a storm like that, they would have had a foot of water on the street.”

All parties at Monday’s Council meeting praised the Department of Public Works (DPW) and DPW Foreman Paul Argenzio’s tree removal crews. As trees and limbs fell, they were removed quickly, councillors said.

“Their response was truly amazing and they did the job with a smile,” said Councillor Stephen Reardon.

“Most of us didn’t hear about any incidents because of the great (DPW) response,” said Councillor Tony Zambuto.

Streets that reported downed trees or wires were: John Mooney Road, 158 Prospect Ave, 178 Campbell Ave, 36 Bickford Ave, 92 Mountain Ave, 18 Haskell Ave, 50 Avalon St (telephone pole caught fire), 44 Ridge Rd, 629 Winthrop Ave, 331 Reservoir Ave, Geneva Street, Cooledge Street and 20 Sherman St.

Meanwhile, life was different on the Boulevard where some 10 high rises and most all of the buildings between Revere Street and Carey Circle were without electrical power from Sunday until Monday night.

“That was kind of a push of ours, trying to get National Grid to resolve the problem on the Boulevard and Ocean Avenue,” said Doherty. “There were 10 high-rises without power for some time.”

Only the Jack Satter House – which is on a different grid – was with power.

Meanwhile, all residents on the Boulevard also had to contend with a lightly announced towing policy by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the State Police.

Around 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, State Police began towing cars from the Boulevard as residents slept.

To make matters worse, cars were towed to a facility in Lynn that was closed all day Sunday.

A spokesman for the State Police indicated that the parking ban was issued on Aug. 26th by the DCR and was to become effective on Sunday at midnight.

However, a press release from the DCR received by the Journal last Thursday did not mention anything about a parking ban or a towing policy. It did mention that Revere Beach and others throughout the state would be closed.

It was indicated by residents that there was a sign placed at Eliot Circle – on the other end of the Beach – announcing the ban. However, they received no word of the policy and did not see the sign.

Powers was livid at Monday’s meeting.

“We have a computer system that can make phone calls to residents, but in order to do that we have to have information from the State Police or the DCR,” he said. “We have to know when they’re going to tow so we can let people know and we didn’t know. They did this towing at 3 or 4 a.m. right when people were sleeping in their beds. They had to wake up and find their cars gone and they had to pay between $130 to $150. To exacerbate the problem, they had them towed to Lynn, outside of the city. It’s all insulting to me and the residents on that Boulevard.”

At-large Candidate Billy Bell indicated that he observed the towing and he called for reimbursements for those effected.

Ward 5 Candidate Frank Sabbio said the same, indicating that no one in the Satter House knew of the towing declaration.

“People should have been given some type of direct warning,” said Councillor John Correggio.

By Tuesday, most everything had been cleared from the City streets and most of the power had been restored.

Only Cooledge Street and parts of Mountain Avenue and Geneva Street remained in the dark.

At Suffolk Downs, power was also still out and the track cancelled racing and simulcasting on Monday and Tuesday.

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