, Gloucester, MA

October 30, 2012

Editorial: Heed chief's words; stay clear of coast, cleanup efforts

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — First, police and public works crews shut down parts of Atlantic Road when a high-tide storm surge made parts of it impassable, whole Essex town officials had to shut down the Main Street Causeway as well.

But those incidents, of course, were only the beginning of a string of emergency calls and reports Monday, when the winds and gusts of Hurricane Sandy – clocked at up to 78 miles per hour in Gloucester by late afternoon and early evening — roared across Cape Ann from a storm center hundreds of miles away.

As the day and night wore on, there were nonstop reports of downed trees and wires, widespread power outages, at least one transformer fire, and a fire reported in a generator alongside a house on River Road. And while crews throughout our region, joined by National Grid crews dealing with countless electrical issues, did an outstanding job of responding, the fact is, their tasks were just beginning last night, with far more extensive cleanup continuing — along with the storm — today and no doubt tomorrow and beyond.

To that end, it’s important that residents heed the words of new Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and, for God’s sake, stay away from coastline and avoid other storm hazards in Sandy’s aftermath.

This is, indeed, a landmark storm for Cape Ann, with more expected of Sandy’s impact expected today. But getting through it is not a spectator sport. And the last thing police, fire, public works or other responders need is for some local looney tunes to be walking the rocks on the Back Shore, surfing off Good Harbor Beach, Magnolia or anywhere else, or getting too close to downed wires or trees.

Foolish actions such as those not only sap badly needed police and other emergency resources at a time when they’re badly needed elsewhere; they can also needlessly put these public servant at risk themselves.

Look, all of us will be dealing with storm cleanup, one way or another, today — and likely, for days to come. And no one will be dealing with more cleanup issues that the crews who have already been at it for a full day already.

Stay out of the way, and don’t make it worse.