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In Massachusetts, mountains of snow block roads as residents cope

February 10, 2013|By Alana Semuels
  • Houses in the Massachusetts coastal town of Scituate are encrusted with ice after a major blizzard. The town could be without power for several days.
Houses in the Massachusetts coastal town of Scituate are encrusted with… (Alana Semuels / Los Angeles…)

QUINCY, Mass. -- After being cooped up for two days, many Massachusetts residents seemed eager to get out of their houses Sunday to stock up on groceries and resume a semblance of normal life. But in many places, it soon became clear that things were not back to normal.

Streets that are usually two lanes were down to one, with the other blocked by snow. Large patches of sidewalk had not been shoveled, forcing pedestrians onto the streets to battle for space with cars. Traffic lights were still out in some towns, and utility crews worked to fix downed lines at many street corners. Highways were mostly clear, but some side streets were nearly impassable.

Wayne Keith, 70, headed into Quincy to shovel out a rental property he owned, only to find a giant pile of snow in the middle of the street leading to the house. A plow had lost traction, dumping a 10-foot pile of snow in the street and making it impassable.

“This road is usually terrible, but I’ve never seen it blocked,” he said. He and his wife and daughter drove to the house another way and began to shovel the snow, which had hardened overnight.

Daughter Tracy said it was a good way to get warm. She’d left her house in Quincy as soon as the state driving ban was lifted because she didn’t have power and was craving a hot shower. She hasn’t gone back yet. 

Dan Spatola was shoveling his sidewalk after spending about four hours uncovering his car. There was one problem, though: A snowplow had started on his street but stopped, leaving a massive heap of snow in the roadway.

Spatola lost power for 10 hours, but it was back on Sunday. He’d like to return to work Monday -- if not for that mountain of snow.

Clearing the street is on the town’s to-do list, he said, “but it might be awhile.”

Although Quincy was one of the hardest-hit towns in Massachusetts, a shelter that had held 75 people was empty Sunday morning. 

“Right now, slowly and surely, things are getting back to normal,” said Jimmy Wong, a fire inspector at the Quincy Fire Department, who was supervising the shelter. He’d been there until 2 a.m. Sunday and returned at 8 a.m.  He hadn’t had time to shovel out his car; it was still buried under snow.

The coastal towns were the worst hit in Massachusetts, including Scituate, where the ocean came up over a seawall and knocked porches and stairs off homes. Power was out for the whole town.

Liz Swanson headed down to the coast to check out the home her family has owned in Scituate since 1962. The water carried the back deck and front stairs away, so she couldn’t get inside. The last time the house was so damaged was 1991, she said, when the deck was swept away. She’ll call her insurance company Monday.

“This happens once every 20 years,” she said. “At least no one was here.”

alana.semuels@latimes.com 

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