GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 12, 2013

Rockport eyes FEMA aid

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — Residents and business owners throughout Rockport are continuing to pick up the pieces in the wake of the weekend Blizzard of 2013.

And while students across Cape Ann are returning to classrooms today, town officials are continuing with the cleanup process.

Prior to the storm, Rockport’s Board of Selectmen declared a formal state of emergency, which allowed town officials to call in additional staff members and seek federal aid.

Monday, Rockport Police Lt. Schmink said town officials would be seeking a significant amount of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, largely to cover the damages throughout town, which he described as “catastrophic.” The money, to a lesser extent, would also cover overtime worked by emergency personnel, snow removal equipment and debris removal, he said.

Schmink could only describe the cleanup process on Monday as “long and arduous,” and very much ongoing. Schmink, along with members of the National Guard and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency visited areas of Marmion Way, Penzance Road and Bearskin Neck to gain access to areas hit particularly hard by the storm and assess the damage.

Shops and homes along Bearskin Neck were evacuated Saturday, with anywhere from 60 to upward of 70 people being transported to an emergency shelter opened at the Rockport Middle/High School.

”I’ve been here 19 years, I’ve never seen more than 12 people (in the shelter),” Schmink said. According to police, about 12 people stayed at the shelter overnight. People were transported to the high school by firefighters, police officers and residents.

Storm damage in Rockport wasn’t limited to Bearskin Neck, or to the downtown.

Officials also noted the seawall damage stretching from Bearskin Neck to Old Harbor Road.

Long Beach saw some erosion and damage to its seawall as well, but the director of Department of Public Works, Joe Parisi, said he was still assessing the damage. In addition, he said a 50-foot section of Gap Head Road near Marmion Way was uprooted.

In Essex, meanwhile, power outages plagued residents well into Monday afternoon.

Police said a transformer blew out on Eastern Avenue at about 1:40 p.m. Monday. According to National Grid’s power outage map, about 1,800 residents were without power, from Eastern Avenue to Gardener Street. National Grid expected power to return to the area later last night.

Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said the town would also likely apply for FEMA reimbursement, to cover such costs as overtime for emergency personnel and snow removal equipment.

Manchester’s Town Administrator, Wayne Melville, said it was too early to tell if the town would be seeking any FEMA aid, as damage assessments still need to be done.

However, the town was in a bind after water main break Saturday on Pipeline Road. After the break, the town had to resort to a well of Lincoln Street — and that was being run off of generators after a power outage.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.