The idea of fining someone up to $500 — or sentencing someone to up to a year in jail — for daring to simply drive on one of Massachusetts’ roadways Friday night and late Saturday afternoon certainly raised a few eyebrows, even in the face of the Blizzard of 2013.
Similarly, the notion of Gloucester police tagging any vehicles to be towed for parking on a city street has always been seen as a foreign concept by many folks as well.
But no one should argue that those tactics — heavy-handed or not — were among the key factors that allowed many Gloucester and Cape Ann residents to be able to get out and about by Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the final hit by an historic winter storm that buried us in between 20 and 24 inches of snow while socking a number of residents and business owners with wind and storm surge damage.
So credit goes out to Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Carolyn Kirk, city Police Chief Leonard Campanello, Rockport’s selectmen and Department of Public Works crews across Cape Ann and beyond for helping us all of us deal with this weather blockbuster as well as we did. The fact that there were no reports of any storm-related Cape Ann deaths or injuries speaks to the extraordinary level of cooperation that shone through throughout the weekend among officials, emergency crews. And let’s not forget the cooperation among residents who, true to form in our communities, reached out to help and keep tabs on their neighbors through a weekend that could have gone much, much worse.
It was the governor’s travel ban that carried the potential $500 penalty and/or up to a year in jail. And, yes, on the surface, that seemed to go a tad overboard. But it also got every Massachusetts driver’s attention. And the nearly complete absence of cars, trucks and/or buses on the streets and highways seemed to give public works crews an extraordinary leg up on clearing the main arteries across Gloucester, Cape Ann and elsewhere — while essentially forcing drivers to tuck in their cars at home or in another safe parking area before the brunt of the blizzard even hit.