Expecting first a predicted to 1-3 inches of snow, then with forecasts as of late Thursday showing accumulations of up to 6 inches but as little as 2, residents, public works and emergency crews Friday battled a stubborn storm that dumped 8-10 inches onto Gloucester and Cape Ann, delivering a storm surge that packed a punch of its own along the coast.
The storm shut down schools in Gloucester, Rockport and in the Manchester Essex Regional districts, and also closed down Rockport’s town offices while sparking a long list of Friday night cancellations. And it delivered another harsh blow to coastal properties, some of which are still reeling from the Feb. 8-9 Blizzard of 2013.
Among other problems, the snow and slippery road conditions led to a gas leak at 68 Eastern Point Road, where a woman negotiating a driveway struck the gas line and knocked off the control valve, said Gloucester Fire Chief Eric Smith.
As a result, two houses in the area — the site of the accident and another that had renovators working next door — had to be evacuated for about two hours.
The reports of the gas leak came in around 11 a.m. and police blocked off sections of Eastern Point Road due to the strong smell of gas. The situation was under control just before 1 p.m., according to Deputy Chief Andrew McRobb, as National Grid had arrived to control the gas leak. Shortly after, residents were allowed back into their homes.
Smith said the most complicated part of the incident was wading through the snow.
Meanwhile, the Cape Ann Motor Inn, which sits at the edge of Long Beach in Gloucester, saw “substantial” damage due to the storm surge, owner Brad Pierce said. As the high tide came in Friday morning, the Inn’s back steps were washed away along with parts of the back deck, he said,