GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 11, 2013

At least 3 Mass. deaths blamed on blizzard

From Staff
and Wire Reports

---- — While Cape Ann escaped the Blizzard of 2013 without any loss of life and no reported significant injuries, other parts of the state were not so fortunate.

At least three deaths across the state had been attributed to the storm as of Sunday night.

In Boston, a 14-year-old boy reportedly died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the city’s Roxbury section Saturday morning when he went inside a running car to warm up while his father continued shoveling outside, according to Boston police. The car, however, had been backed into heavy snow, which apparently clogged the exhaust and forced the deadly gas to back up inside the vehicle.

And in Boston’s Mattapan section, a 21-year-old man was found dead inside a car, also with a tailpipe that investigators believe was blocked by snow, allowing buildup of the deadly gas, police said.

In a third Boston incident, a brother and sister, ­ages 4 and 7, were found unconscious shortly before 5 p.m. inside a car in East Boston, where they were trying to keep warm. They were, however, revived at the scene, rushed to a hospital and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning. Police said the children are expected to survive.

Meanwhile, a veteran Worcester firefighter died Saturday after he suffered a heart attack while using a snowblower at his home in Webster, fire officials confirmed Sunday.

According to reports, firefighter Patrick E. Germain, 60, was home Saturday morning clearing his driveway with a snowblower when he went inside and took a nap because he wasn’t feeling well. He later went back outside to finish cleaning up his property and had a heart attack, according to media reports. Worcester Deputy Fire Chief Geoffrey Gardell said Germain was taken to an area hospital where he died.

Closer to home, the Gloucester house on Salt Island Road and Rockport business owners on Bearskin Neck were hardly the only victims of the blizzard’s massive storm surge Saturday morning.

In Salisbury, Edward Bemis and his wife, Nancy, were caught in a monster wave that crashed through their sliding glass door and swept all of the couple’s belongings up in a torrent to the back of the apartment.

Pinned under the sliding glass door and 2 1/2 feet of water was Nancy Bemis.

“I grabbed the door and tried to pull it off of her – she was choking on seawater,” Edward Bemis said.

The couple’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Ashley, came running, still rubbing sleep from her eyes, trying to make sense of what was happening. Then suddenly, the Salisbury Fire Department was at their door with an Emergency Code Red evacuation order, urging them to grab what they could and board evacuation vans waiting outside.

That experience played out in many houses up and down Salisbury’s North End Boulevard Saturday morning. According to Salisbury emergency responders, upwards of 50 dwellings were evacuated Saturday morning as the 10 a.m. high tide approached. In addition to North End Boulevard, the evacuations affected Central Avenue, including about five units inside Michael’s Ocean Front Motel, where five units were being rented long term by families and individuals.

Aside from a few people who refused to leave their homes, the evacuees were brought to the Hilton Senior Center on Route 1, a temporary shelter that was set up in advance of the storm. There, they gathered to wait out the rest of the storm before returning home or seeking alternative housing with friends or relatives. While babies as young as 6 weeks old slept in their parents’ arms and others rested on cots, 10 to 15 children busied themselves with a Wii gaming console set up in one corner of the center. Adults huddled together, sipping hot coffee provided by emergency volunteers.

A former Navy man, Edward Bemis said the raging approach of the ocean was like nothing he’s ever seen in his life, even throughout his days stationed out at sea.

“It was a titanic wave,” he said. “It was bigger than the house, bigger than the doors. Everything was everywhere. It shows you the power of Mother Nature.”

The blizzard dealt Gloucester and Cape Ann residents between 20 and 24 inches of snow, along with winds that hits gusts of 60 miles per hour. But other residents and communities across the state fared far worse.

The top snowfall level was reported at 37 inches in West Boylston, a town just north of Worcester, while wind gusts of between 75 and 80 miles per hour — above hurricane force — were reported in Bedford and on Cape Cod, where the storm lingered throughout most of Saturday afternoon, delivering belated bands of snow and high winds that stalled utility cleanup efforts.

The storm dumped a total of 24.9 inches of snow on the city of Boston – the fifth highes total in the city’s history, according to meteorologists, but more than two inches shy of the infamous Blizzard of 1978, which struck 35 years ago last week.