At the Board of Selectmen's Meeting last night, the Department of Public Works (DPW), and the Police and Fire departments presented a report on how they prepared for and handled Hurricane Irene, which was a tropical storm by the time it arrived in Massachusetts. They also discussed how citizens can help with clean-up efforts by bringing limbs to the curb.
"Our model is ‘prepare for the worst, and hope for the best’ and I think we got that." Department of Public Works Commissioner Andrew Pappistergion explained that what we got "Maybe was not the best, but it was definitely not the worst."
The Commissioner presented a slide-show displaying some of the damage done around Brookline. A number of trees had been uprooted, only one landing on a house. Pappistergion commented that, while the town had prepared for 8- to 9-inches of rain, we received less than three.
That isn't to say there was no damage. The DPW responded to 115 calls where over 50 percent of the tree had fallen. Of those, ten were on houses or cars. There were also 30 incidents of downed power lines, which the DPW couldn't handle without NStar backup.
Pappistergion called this a "fine ballet," as DPW employees arrive to address a downed tree limb, they would have to wait for NStar to arrive, while the downed limb remained untouched. , people were warned to treat all downed lines as live.
At the peak of the storm, NStar reported 7000 homes without power. As of Monday morning, that number was down to 475.
“if it didn’t involve power, we were opening things up really incredibly quickly,” Fire Chief John Green commented. “Power is not in our scope of control."
Because of the advance notice, a lot of planning went in ahead of time for the storm. Brookline Police Chief Daniel O'Leary said that he was on vacation in the days leading up to the storm, and only had to look over the plan on Sunday.
"Residents would be pleased to hear that, when we finalized our plan, it included some things which we didn’t have to use. One of them was a shelter," O'Leary said.
The Brookline High School gym would have been the site for the shelter.
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and amateur radio operators who meet at the Dexter School (the group ran ) "churned out a lot of work" O'Leary also said. He added that the EOC was staffed from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., after which the local police and fire dispatch took over.
“There were huge amounts of tree damage, more than I’d seen in a while,” DPW Commissioner Pappistergion noted.
He added that “without arborists like Tom Brady, or without Tom Brady specifically, things don’t go as smooth as you think they would... without, it’s a helter-skelter operation.”
Curbside Limb Pick-up
On Tuesday, citizens can help the DPW's clean-up efforts by dragging fallen limbs to the curb for pick-up and chipping. Pappistergion says they prefer longer limbs, provided people can pick up and carry them safely. When moving limbs, don't block the sidewalks or roadways, as well. Yard waste, recycling and trash pick-up operations will also run during the week as normal.