THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Flood repairs in Somerville may cost millions

By Katheleen Conti
Globe Staff / July 12, 2010

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It may have been brief, but Saturday’s torrential rain storm and accompanying flash floods left Somerville with damage estimated in the millions of dollars, according to Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone’s office.

Raw sewage and flood waters quickly overwhelmed the public safety building on Washington Street, damaging equipment and forcing the closure of the Police Department’s headquarters and Engine 3 of the Fire Department. Cleaning crews were still decontaminating the building late yesterday.

“The guys were diving through the sewage in order to hook chains to the cruisers,’’ said Michael Meehan, Curtatone’s director of communications. “There were cruisers floating around.’’

Some of the city’s school buildings also were flooded. Meehan said the total damage could be in the millions of dollars, but it is too soon to calculate exact figures. Curtatone spent part of yesterday on the phone with state officials to see about getting financial assistance, he added.

The public safety building, with a skeleton staff, is scheduled to be partially open for administrative operations starting today, Meehan said. However, the public should still go to the West Neighborhood Substation at 1154 Broadway, where police operations were relocated, he said. Emergency 911 services will still be run out of Everett.

“It’s a little hectic around here right now, but the bottom line is that if someone does call 911 needing police, fire, or ambulance, the response will be no different than it was before the storm,’’ said Deputy Police Chief Paul Upton.

Engine 3 was relocated to a firehouse on Lowell Street, said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Lucia. Most of the firefighters’ gear and equipment, stored in lockers on the ground floor, was damaged by sewage-contaminated water, Lucia said.

Eight police cruisers and an entire fleet of motorcycles at the public safety building were also damaged, Meehan said.

Crews are expected to perform electrical work in the building in the middle of the week, Meehan said, adding that once that is completed, the entire workforce and 911 operations will be moved back in.

The National Weather Service reported that 1.65 inches of rain fell at Logan International Airport Saturday. A Somerville spokeswoman said the city received about 3 inches of rain in one hour Saturday.

Katheleen Conti can be reached at kconti@globe.com.

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