The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 19, 2010

Emergency crews come through in weekend deluge

Carlisle saw widespread flooding problems this week, during three days of soaking rain, said Superintendent of Public Works Gary Davis. He and his crew were kept on the move, clearing roads and culverts, their trucks filled with rocks to shore up washed-out shoulders on the roads. Davis said that this storm was much worse than the storm that hit the area in the beginning of March. According to both the weather station at the Carlisle School and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, over 7.5 inches of rain fell during last weekend’s storm.

Flood cleanup continued on Tuesday as DPW workers (left to right) Jim Young and Jim Hall waited on East Street for the arrival of a front-end loader which would be used to help them shore up eroded roads. (Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

According to Fire Chief David Flannery, the Fire Department handled over 60 calls for either pumping or assistance and went into the emergency mode they use for extreme weather events, with 15 firefighters on duty at one time during the height of the rain and wind. Police and firefighters were swamped on Sunday and Monday (see logs, page 15) as the communications dispatcher scrambled to keep up with calls from residents with water problems.

The dispatcher at the Police Station funneled information to both the Fire Department and DPW crews during the storm and also relayed Carlisle’s needs to the utility companies responsible for maintaining wire networks servicing the town. Most of these respondents worked long days and overnight shifts as they coped with more water than many of them remembered seeing in Carlisle before.

On Sunday afternoon, the road by St. Irene Church was under more than four inches of fast moving water. A house on Bedford Road and one on Maple Street were both almost totally surrounded by water. On Brook Street a sump pump tried to keep up with the water pouring down a driveway and into a garage. Almost every street in Carlisle had impromptu waterfalls as the heavy rains ran off the already saturated soil and into the roads.

Cellars pumped, residents assisted

Water in the basement was the most common problem. Many sump pumps simply could not keep up with the volume of water that needed to be pumped. Fire crews and police cooperated to keep the Fire Department’s three gas and two electric pumps rotating among residents who called for help. Flannery said his big pump can handle 500 gallons a minute, which made for a fast clean up and swift shuffle of equipment; other residents were loaned pumps for as long as needed and then the pumps were relayed to the next person on the list. In several cases the volume of water was so large that fire crews needed to make return visits when the pump became available.

Roads closed

At times, Brook and Russell Streets, Milne Cove Road, West Street and North Road were closed to through traffic because of local flooding and downed trees. A road shoulder collapsed on East Street and a part of Tophet Road was reported as

(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

undermined. Overflowed ponds and wetlands created hazardous conditions throughout town and were monitored as needed. Fire teams worked in three-person crews, and two EMTS were on duty as well.

Flannery says he is already starting to survey damage caused by the storm. Since the governor declared a state of emergency Carlisle might qualify for emergency aid from the federal government.

Schools cope

Monday’s classes started on time at the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, though buses traveling in Carlisle experienced problems picking up students on roads closed by the flooding.

At the Carlisle School, where the start of school on Monday was delayed for two hours, water seeped into the Spalding Building through the slab floor and into the Cory Building by the basement door. Both roofs leaked as well. “Buses did not travel on any of the closed roads,” said Superintendent Marie Doyle in an email. “In some cases, children walked out to the closest point a bus could reach, and in a few cases, a different bus was able to get closer to some homes and the children rode that bus. In other cases, parents drove their children to school.” Despite the weather there was just a slight increase in absences, she said.

Library repairs pass the test

Recent repairs to the roof, foundation and façade of Gleason Library were tested by the storm. According to Library Trustee Priscilla Stevens, the library was one of the driest spots in town this week. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito