Well, it wasn't a hurricane, but the December 26 blizzard and
nor'easter that rolled through New England on December 26 did
hurricane-level damage in a few local areas near the Atlantic.
In Scituate, Mass., on the coast south of Boston, waves kicked
up by the storm pounded holes in the town's seawall and flooded
some houses with 8-foot-deep waves. Two houses caught fire because
of shorts in electrical wiring, and firefighters had all they could
do to evacuate residents. Both homes were destroyed, according to
ABC News ("
Causes Severe Flooding, Evacuations and Fires in Mass. Coastal
," by Olivia Katrandjian). Town Department of Public Works
Director Al Bangert told ABC News, ""Firemen went out with fire
extinguishers in a rescue boat used more to rescue people in the
water than fight fires. They couldn't stop the fires, but they
rescued a man stranded in a nearby house."
Forty thousand people were without power by late Sunday morning,
reported the Boston Globe ("
blizzard leaves behind more power outages and damaging coastal
," by John R. Ellement). After the storm, utility
National Grid came in for some harsh criticism following reports
that the utility didn't answer firefighter calls to cut off power
because of fire risks, and then was slow to send repair crews to
deal with dangerous downed wires, according to the Boston Herald
Grid blasted for storm response
," by Thomas Grillo). "It's
clear they weren't prepared," said Democratic state Rep. Jim
Cantwell, "and we must have a better response from utility
companies during storms."
Videos of flooding, fire, and the firefighter
response in Scituate, Mass.
(top) were posted by YouTube
user “SurfSkiWeatherMan,” , along with videos of the
destruction to the Scituate seawall and several beachfront homes
(bottom). Seawall damage may not qualify for federal relief funds,
After the snow and winds passed by, town and state officials
faced a complicated assessment task, reported the Globe
still sizing up storm damage
,” by Beth Daley). At least
400 Scituate homes were damaged by wind, waves, or both, the paper
reported. A Globe photo gallery showed a gaping hole in the
town’s seawall, and the garage of one seafront house choked
with mounds of beach stones and sand.
Officials were counting up the estimated dollar damage to see if
the region would qualify for federal disaster relief dollars, the
Globe reported (“
of storm damage begins
,” by Robert Knox). But fine points
in the federal formula might prevent the state or towns from
receiving aid, the paper reported: damage to the Scituate seawall
would likely not be included in the total or be eligible for
reimbursement of repairs. Seawall destruction falls outside the
normal scope of disaster relief, Massachusetts Emergency Management
Agency spokesman Peter Judge told the paper, because FEMA considers
it to be the result of long-term exposure to rough water, rather
than a single storm episode. But state Representative James
Cantwell, who represents Scituate in the Massachusetts General
Assembly, questioned that interpretation. Cantwell says federal law
should be read as authorizing federal funding for repairs to