Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
The nor'easter that dumped a heavy blanket of snow across Massachusetts Sunday night into this morning also battered the coastline, causing flooding and power outages on both the North Shore and South Shore.
Several dozen people were evacuated from their homes in Scituate due to flooding, said Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi. Pounding waves damaged but did not breach a seawall. At the same time, a couple of hundred people lost power due to wires downed by a "fierce, fierce wind" Sunday night, she said.
Scituate's problems were compounded when an electrical short caused a fire in a home on 7th Avenue, and a neighboring home caught fire.
"We're sort of dealing with a lot of elements coming together right now," she said. She said town officials urged people to go to a shelter at Scituate High School if they had concerns, but otherwise, she said, people should "stay off the roads, it's not a good time to be outside."
"We're addressing the situation as it occurs and waiting for high tide" this afternoon, she said.
Scituate Police Lieutenant Ted Coyle said the Massachusetts National Guard had been brought in to help with evacuations.
"This is about as challenging an operation as we’ve seen in a lot of years," he said.
Two residents who were staying at the high school shelter said they had been awakened by the water lapping on the side of their house.
“The water was up to here inside,” said Carmen Tirado, with her hand up to her neck. “Everything floating.”
“We’ve had it high before, but it wasn’t that high. Never,” agreed Robert Ali, who lives with Tirado on Jericho Road.
“We got up at 2:30 a.m. in the morning and heard the water. But out the window, everything was dark. When the cars started floating by, and water splashing the house [we knew something was wrong],” Ali said.
“The water was coming so high up the wall. The streets, everything was flooded. They couldn’t do nothing,” Tirado said.
According to Tirado, the first floor of the apartment sustained severe damage. National Guard members helped evacuate many of their neighbors from their homes.
The couple didn’t expect to be able to go back to their apartment, and their car is currently under water.
John Sweeney, another Jericho Road resident, who evacuated in the early morning but came back later to assess the damage, said his whole house was flooded. Even his refrigerator had toppled over.
"I got up and I put my foot down and it was up to here in water,” he said, gesturing to his knee. "I had to go out one of the windows because there was so much
water here and on the other side."
Quincy Police Captain John Dougan said evacuations in that city began at 3:30 a.m. and all residents declined the offer to go to Quincy High School, instead making alternative arrangements.
Police said several streets in the Houghs Neck section, including Winthrop Street and Adams Shore, had been evacuated as of this morning. In addition, portions of Sea Street, which enters Houghs Neck, flooded due to the weather, making them impassable for residents.
The next high tide is scheduled to be around 3 p.m. this afternoon, and officials are still concerned.
"We're very concerned about high tide. With the storm still sitting out there, I’m sure it will be flood stage," Dougan said.
On the North Shore, in Gloucester and Rockport, thousands of homes were without power late Monday morning.
Emergency shelters were set up at Gloucester's Fuller School and at Rockport High School. "People are going on 12 hours without power and they're starting to get cold," said Gloucester Deputy Fire Chief Steve Aiello. "We decided to open the shelter for them."
Trees and power lines were downed by wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour, "We have to go out and remove tree limbs, repair wires, run new wires," said David Graves, a spokesman for National Grid. "There are lines that could have to be replaced as well. It's very labor-intensive, but we'll be at it throughout the day."
Still, National Grid expects most lights to be back on by tonight. "That's our goal," Graves said.
Pounding waves also damaged infrastructure such as breakwaters, beach walls, and gangways in Rockport, said Rosemary Lesch, co-harbormaster.
Sixteen residents of the Bearskin Neck section had to be evacuated around 4 a.m., due to high seas, Lesch said. They were taken to an emergency shelter at the high school. "It was dangerous," she said. "We had floating propane tanks, and a lot of damage to signs and windows."
Other North Shore communities weren't hit so hard. In Winthrop, high waves closed Winthrop Shore Drive from about 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m, said Winthrop Police Lt. Frank Scarpa.
The Winthrop Fire Department was busy pumping out flooded basements. Some people left their homes while that took place, but there were no major evacuations, he added.
Workers reporting for duty at the MWRA's Deer Island treatment plant in Winthrop had to take a new route due to street flooding.
On Plum Island, the storm did not cause serious damage to its rapidly eroding beach. There were no evacuations either, said Newburyport Police Lt. Rick Siemasko.
"The island held up fairly well," Siemask said late Monday morning. "We had some minor flooding along the (main access road) but we have no roads closed."
In Salisbury, residents of the Driftwood Motel had to be taken to a shelter at the town's senior center, after water flooded the motel's whole first floor. "That was our only major incident," said Fire Chief Richard Souliotis. "I imagine it will take awhile before they can get back in there."
The National Weather Service said that "a serious coastal flood situation occurred earlier this morning" and warned that waves of 20 to 30 feet would continue to batter the coastline during the day, with minor flooding expected during the afternoon high tide.
The service issued a coastal flood advisory in effect until 6 p.m. tonight.
Thomas Farragher/Globe Staff
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