Blizzard Causes Severe Flooding, Evacuations and Fires in Mass. Coastal Town

Massachusetts coastal town suffers snow, rain, fires and evacuations.

December 27, 2010, 12:53 PM

Dec. 27, 2010 — -- The coastal Massachuestts town of Scituate was in the bull's eye of the East Coast blizzard, hammered with snow, rain, flooding, evacuations and fires.

The storm began as heavy snow about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, turned to a cold rain Sunday night and back to snow on Monday morning.

The blizzard overwhelmed the town's seawall, sending ocean water gushing about 100 yards into the streets, as much as eight feet deep in some areas.

Two homes on Seventh Avenue caught on fire and were destroyed. The Fire Department believes that rising floodwaters reached an electrical unit in one of the homes and sparked the fire. A neighboring house then caught fire.

"We've had a couple of house fires we couldn't get to because the ocean has flooded in between the houses," said Department of Public Works Director Al Bangert. "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."

Everyone inside the homes were evacuated safely. The National Guard helped rescue people from other houses that are under water. Lighthouse Point, which has about 80 houses on it, was evacuated, according to WBZ TV in Boston.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Scituate High School where hundreds of evacuees from Lighthouse Point and Oceanside Drive are now staying. Other shelters have been set up in the nearby towns of Hull, Quincy, Whitman, Hanson, Rockport and Salisbury.

The storm hit the region Sunday and about a dozen homes near the coast were evacuated by early Monday morning. About 80 people were helped from their homes by the fire department, the fire chief estimated, according to the Boston Globe.

Officials fear the flooding might cause the sewage system to back up.

"We have a sewer pump station that's not accessible to us right now, so were trying to get to that to see what's going on. It's a pretty substantial pumping system, and if it's not working, sewage backs up," Bangert told ABC News.

Scituate, about 30 miles south of Boston, has suffered the worst from the storm among the coastal towns and faces the most danger from high flood waters, said Peter Judge, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, according to the Boston Globe.

"Scituate seems to be in the bull's eye,'' said Judge.

Scituate, Mass., Is in Blizzard's Bull's Eye

"The snow has stopped but we're still looking at some coastal flooding impact from the high tide from about 3 to 5 tonight. The winds have shifted so we don't expect the coastal flooding to be as severe as this morning's high tide cycle, but there may still be some impact," Scott MacLeod, a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesperson, told ABC News.

According to the National Weather Service, "waves of 20 to 30 feet would continue to batter the coastline during the day, with minor flooding expected during the afternoon high tide."

"We're very concerned about high tide. With the storm still sitting out there, I'm sure it will be flood stage," Quincy Police Captain John Dougan told the Boston Globe.

"With any kind of coastal flooding there's potential for impact to public utility, like sewer water and infrastructure, but until the flood waters have a chance to recede it's premature to say what steps will need to be taken," said MacLeod.

The National Weather Service reported a 50 percent chance of snow for Monday afternoon. The snow is supposed to continue into the night.

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