The Blizzard of 2013: Mountains of Snow Couldn’t Sink Revere Residents, Work Crews

As conditions worsened on Winthrop Parkway, floodwaters elevated and waves crashed over the seawall. But, despite the scary scene, flooding did not overtake Beachmont, Revere Beach or the Pines as many had thought.

As conditions worsened on Winthrop Parkway, floodwaters elevated and waves crashed over the seawall. But, despite the scary scene, flooding did not overtake Beachmont, Revere Beach or the Pines as many had thought.

While warmer temperatures over the last few days have erased a bit of the memory and the mounds of snow from the Blizzard of 2013, city officials and many residents (especially their backs!) have yet to completely forget the high winds and heavy snow that blanketed Revere over a period of 18 hours last weekend.

It was the first major snowstorm since the winter of 2011.

There were no official snow totals from the National Weather Service (NWS) for Revere, but Chelsea logged an official 23 inches, while Winthrop and Logan Airport registered 24.9 inches. North of Revere, Lynn had 27 inches and Saugus hit 28.2 inches. Revere is believed to have had around 25 inches unofficially.

The highest snowfall totals in Massachusetts were in Framingham and Winchester, both of which had slightly more than 30 inches.

In addition, Logan Airport registered wind gusts of 76 mph at 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

For the most part, Revere officials said they were happy with the response from City plow crews, and most everyone was grateful that the coastal flooding situation didn’t become catastrophic – as had been predicted.

“As tough as the roadways may look today from the window, other cities and towns are doing no better,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo at a Blizzard wrap-up meeting before Monday’s City Council meeting. “I think the City really has done a terrific job. We’re a coastal community and one of the hardest hit during the storm…It amazes me the guys that were out there working 40 hours straight with very little sleep. One of our neighboring cities lost about 25 percent of its streets and that’s easy to do in a storm of this magnitude. We didn’t have that here.”

Rizzo said that the storm would likely cost the City around $200,000, though the cost could have been more had the City elected to bring in heavy equipment to truck out snow on Monday. Rizzo said they chose not to do that as the weather was warming up.

“We could have brought in more pieces of heavy equipment, trailers and trucks, but the problem is that it’s very, very expensive, probably another $150,000 of taxpayer money. We made a judgment call to let the weather take its course and let the snow melt away so we could save some money.”

DPW Superintendent Don Goodwin said his crews performed extraordinarily and the public was extremely cooperative.

“I have to tip my hat to the guys,” said Goodwin. “They really broke their backs. Some guys went 40 hours without sleep. They really stepped up.”

Councillors agreed.

“You see the Boston streets, two way streets, that aren’t even touched yet,” said Councillor Charlie Patch. “You don’t see that in Revere. Maybe you saw a few one-ways or dead end streets like that here, but that’s really it.”

Said Councillor Stephen Reardon, “This was a storm of truly epic proportions, whether you think that or not. I don’t think we’ve ever had a storm that dumped 30 inches of snow in 24 hours. That makes it quite difficult because you don’t have anywhere to put it. By 4 p.m., Ward 4 had no one getting stuck. If fire engines had to come up the streets or an ambulance, even with the steep hills they could have made it with no problem.”

Those kudos, however, didn’t mean that the storm didn’t challenge the City and uncover a few things that could be done differently next time.

Rizzo said the City’s equipment took a beating, and many of the local contractors didn’t have large enough trucks to fight the large storm.

“The City is not overly abundant in its fleet of heavy equipment and we rely mostly on local contractors, many of whom have pick-up trucks,” said Rizzo. “For most storms that’s sufficient to get the roads clear, but this was a different storm. Unfortunately, this was the type of storm that taxed our equipment and we actually lost some equipment during the height of the storm. One piece actually caught fire and four others had mechanical problems that took them out of service…I think we’ll be ready for another storm if one hits us.”

Goodwin mentioned that the large mounds of snow at the corners – mostly placed there by local plow contractors – had created a huge concern, one that he said should be addressed with a new ordinance. It was noted that school was called off on Tuesday due primarily to the large mounds of snow that blocked sidewalks and school bus stops.

“We really need to come down on that,” he said. “They’re all over the entire City. There’s mounds everywhere preventing people from using the public crosswalks. It is something we need to sit down and draft some ordinances to cut down on it and prevent a lot of it.”

Rizzo said he found it very frustrating that a small number of people continued to shovel snow onto freshly plowed streets. He said the City didn’t issue any fines this time, but would certainly consider doing so in the future.

“It is a real problem,” he said. “It’s hard to keep up with a storm like that and then an hour later people are throwing that same snow back in the street. It’s a waste of time, money and energy…We don’t like to fine people, but when 95 percent of the people are following the rules…the other 5 percent who aren’t may deserve a fine if they’re going to act like that.”

One positive that was noted was the use of the new Wonderland MBTA garage, which was offered to residents at a discounted price. Councillors Ira Novoselsky, Tony Zambuto, John Powers and others said that program should be expanded.

Zambuto said maybe the City should work out a shuttle system to encourage people to park in the garage and get their vehicles off the streets so plows can be more effective.

Powers and Novoselsky said the City also ought to also look into getting cars moved to school parking lots until after a storm.

Nevertheless, it was noted that residents followed the parking ban to the letter, with only 19 tows being executed. Only seven of those tows were to Revere residents, interestingly enough.

The greatest relief, however, came for Fire Chief Gene Doherty, who had been watching the Friday night and Saturday morning tides very carefully. He was ready for extreme measures.

Doherty had told the Journal on Friday that he was preparing for extraordinary high tides on Saturday that were thought to carry a storm surge that could inundate the Pines and Beachmont. The chief said on Friday if major flooding occurred, he was ready to cut power wholesale to entire neighborhoods and evacuate residents.

Fortunately, those measures were not necessary, and the Pines and Beachmont rode out the storm very well.

Ward 1 Councillor Richard Penta reported power outages in Beachmont, but noted that most everyone there had power back by Saturday morning.

Other notes:

•Fire officials asked residents to help fire crews by shoveling out hydrants that are in front of their homes or on their streets.

•Police and Fire officials reminded drivers to be careful and look out for people walking in the roadways due to blocked sidewalks. Several pedestrians had been hit on Saturday and Sunday.

•Police noted that residents have to clear their cars of snow and move them by Wednesday (Feb. 13th), or they will be towed and ticketed.

•As the snow melts, Fire officials have put out a warning to watch out for roof collapses, especially at commercial buildings with flat roofs.

•Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden) made an appearance at Short Beach in Beachmont on Saturday once the storm had died down. He pledged to do everything he could to bring federal help to Revere.

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