Gov. Declares State Of Emergency In Mass

By Jess Bidgood

Jan. 12, 2010

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Gov. Deval Patrick is declaring a state of emergency in Massachusetts as a major snowstorm blankets the state with snow.

The year's first major snowstorm, which began early Wednesday morning, has already produced whiteout conditions, forced mass school cancellations and delayed every flight in and out of Logan airport. And it's expected to last at least until the afternoon.

A downed power line in Somerville. (Andrea Smardon/WGBH)

By the middle of the day on Wednesday, over 100,000 households in the state were without power, according to Massachusetts Emergency Management Association's Peter Judge. Most of the outages were concentrated in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the state. "Most of it is because of the heavy, wet snow and the wind," Judge explained. 

Central Massachusetts is getting even more snow. Worcester's commissioner of public works, Bob Moylan, says his city has had 14 or 15 inches of snow already. But it is light, fluffy snow, rather than the heavy stuff falling in the East. "We haven't been plagued by power outages, I guess I would attribute that to the texture of the snow."

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has deployed over 4,000 plows and spreaders to clear off the roads, but the fast pace of snowfall and the slippery, wet snow means road conditions remain dangerous. Despite light traffic this morning, Judge said, there were still a number of accidents. "A number of spinouts, a number of fender benders, quite a few jacknifed trucks," Judge said.

Still, no serious injuries or road closures have been reported.

In Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino reported almost 300 trees down, with almost 7,000 individuals without power. But he says emergency crews are prepared to fix problems. "We're on top of this, we started planning for this on Sunday," Menino said.

Gov. Patrick has advised those who can to stay home Wednesday.  But not everyone could stay in. 

Joanne Johnson, a Cambridge resident who works at a Boston hospital, finished up an overnight shift Wednesday morning.

Jim Benson shoveled his sidewalk in Cambridge. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

"The minute I drove away from the hospital, it was horrendous. There was was lots of snow everywhere we drove,” Johnson said.

Down the street, Jim Benson was shoveling his own car this morning. He's an NStar employee who will be doing emergency gas line work Wednesday. "Shoveling out, trying to do the best I can," Benson said.

He wasn't worried about his impending commute. "I think the city has probably done a good job. While I was sleeping, I could hear the plows going by doing what they have to do, so so long as everybody does what they have to do and I do what I have to do and people be safe, we'll be okay." 

In Central Square, roads were relatively quiet -- but people trickled toward the red line MBTA stop there.

Anne Avidon was taking the T to her job at the British consulate. "As long as we walk carefully, I think it's fine. I don't know about later, after a few hours of snowfall."

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