Town of Andover Provides Update on Storm Damage and Recovery

Town of Andover
Andrew P. Flanagan, Town Manager
36 Bartlet St.
Andover, MA 01810

townsealandoverFor Immediate Release

Monday, Oct. 30, 2017

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: john@jgpr.net

Town of Andover Provides Update on Storm Damage and Recovery

Schools Closed Oct. 31

Halloween Postponed to Later Date to Allow Clean-up and Power Restoration to Proceed

Town to Open Library, Other Buildings for Device Charging and Food Service

ANDOVER — Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan announces cleanup and recovery efforts in the wake of a severe storm that has affected numerous communities and has left more than three quarters of the town without power:

We have fully deployed town resources in order to ensure the public’s safety,” Town Manager Flanagan said. “Our response has been comprehensive despite competing demands of services, and I am incredibly moved by the response we have received so far from town workers, residents, and business owners.”

Nearly 80 Percent of Andover without power

As of 5 p.m. Monday, nearly 80 percent of the residents, businesses, and municipal buildings in Andover did not have electricity. Statewide there were 259,000 National Grid customers without power, according to the utility provider. A primary source of the problem appears to be 33 high tension power lines throughout the Merrimack Valley that were knocked down during the storm. National Grid crews were on-scene in Andover making restoration efforts.

While there currently is no definite timetable for when power will be completely restored, National Grid has given an estimate of up 72 hours of high tension line repair work.

As a result, the Town of Andover is activating its emergency management protocols. The Memorial Hall Library will be open until 9 p.m. Monday, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The Cormier Youth Center (40 Whittier Court) will open at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Both locations will serve as charging stations for residents to come in and charge their cell phones and mobile devices.

Andover Meals on Wheels has been activated to check on and assist the town’s elderly residents.

“If there is anything positive to take away from this, it is that temperatures are mild, and we have not had the extremely cold nights that accompany winter storms. That said, I still encourage our residents to check on their neighbors. Make sure your friends and neighbors are well, and see if they need anything,” Town Manager Flanagan said. “Mother Nature, as she tends to, has sent us a curveball, and how we come together as a community to respond makes all the difference.”

The Andover Town Offices and West Fire Station are also without power.

Public Schools CLOSED Tuesday

With fallen power lines and other debris blocking roads, Superintendent Sheldon Berman announced that all Andover Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution to allow work crews to conduct repair and cleanup operations without any risk to children or school buses on the roadways.

“The decision to close schools is never made lightly,” Superintendent Berman said. “However, with the significant damage and the work that must be done to recover, it is the best course of action to ensure the safety of our students and faculty.”

The majority of Andover schools are without power or with limited generator service.

Trick-or-Treating Postponed

Halloween events and Trick-or-Treating will be postponed as a precautionary measure. The town will reschedule those activities based on the progress power restoration and cleanup efforts. 

Town Resources

The town’s municipal services, forestry, parks and highway departments been working throughout Sunday night and Monday to clean debris from roadways. 

Dozens of town roads remain closed, and those who don’t have a reason to travel are asked to refrain from driving so that crews can work more easily.

The Andover water treatment plant is running on generator power and has enough capacity to handle the demands of the town. Sewer pumping stations are all running on street or generator power.

In addition, Andover Fire Rescue remains on scene at a chemical fire that ignited inside a tractor trailer traveling on Interstate 495, forcing officials to close the highway indefinitely. 

Andover’s Drinking Water Remains Safe

Power has been restored to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District in North Andover. The wastewater treatment facility serves Andover, Lawrence, Methuen, North Andover and Salem, New Hampshire.

The town has extended Tuesday’s property tax deadline until Tuesday, Nov. 7, and residents have until that date to pay without incurring a late fee. Residents are also encouraged to use town’s online bill pay feature by visiting http://andoverma.gov/412/Online-Bill-Pay. Payments can be made via electronic check or with a credit or debit card.

The Andover Health Division staff has also been put on standby and health inspectors are reaching out to food service establishments that lost power to offer their assistance.

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2013 Boston Marathon

I was standing in front of The Tannery on Boylston Street when the bombs went off at the 2013 Boston Marathon (PBS/NOVA)
I was standing in front of The Tannery on Boylston Street (in Orange) when the bombs went off at the 2013 Boston Marathon (PBS/NOVA)

I hadn’t written these thoughts down until now. It’s not something I ever wanted to experience. A terrorist attack. But there I was, standing in front of The Tannery with my fiancee on April 15.

A bomb went off to my right. Before I knew what had happened, a bomb went off to my left. We weren’t hurt, thankfully.

Of the three of us in the Mayor’s Press Office, one of us had just finished the marathon. The other one was out of the city on what was supposed to a day off. My first call was to my dad. It was a quick call. He’s a firefighter, and he knew what the tone in my voice meant. I told him where I was and that I was OK.

Then I called 617-635-4500, the mayor’s 24-hour hotline, to report in what I had seen, generating a report to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and the Boston Police Unified Communications Center.

Then my personal cell stopped working. I called my mom, on my work phone, which was still working. She was at work, and like most of the world, she didn’t know what had happened yet. All I remember from that call was her incorrectly hearing me shout the numbers for Caitlin’s parents because Caitlin’s cell phone was not working.

Ten minutes later, I was at City Hall, Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Deputy Press Secretary, and Caitlin and I were fielding the first local and national media calls that were coming in non-stop.

Mayor Menino, in the hospital one day removed from surgery for a broken foot, checked himself out of the hospital to attend press conferences that week. (City of Boston photo)
Mayor Menino, in the hospital one day removed from surgery for a broken foot, checked himself out of the hospital to attend press conferences that week. (City of Boston photo)

I didn’t see my home in Hyde Park much that week. The hours went by, and I was glad to be working, but it was also a little numb. I knew it was going to bother me. As a former news reporter, I’d seen people who had been shot, stabbed, and killed. I’ve been around the flashing lights and tense police officers and grown a certain level of comfort with it, if there is such a thing. But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw at the Marathon and the weeks that came after that.

I had it easy. I still had all four limbs. I have nothing to complain about from that day.  Our Press Assistant crossed the finish line about 10 minutes before the explosions and was getting her finisher’s medal when it happened. And the poor Mayor. He was in the hospital, one day removed from surgery for a broken bone in his foot. He would, several times, ignore doctors’ orders that week and check out to lead the City through this.

The days that followed

The next day, we announced the formation of One Fund Boston.

Thursday, President Barack Obama came to Boston for a prayer vigil, as the investigation progressed. At that vigil, something really poignant happened. Say what you will about Mayor Menino, but I know how much pain he was in that day. He was in a wheelchair. He had just had surgery. He rarely, if ever, takes pain medication. There was a microphone set up for him, at wheelchair height. But he stood up when it was his time to speak. Wincing in pain, with his son helping him, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Then investigators released the first good photos of the suspects. They had no choice. Reddit and other websites, blogs, social media channels, and one newspaper front page had started casting wholly innocent people in a terrorist’s light.

Overnight, I returned to City Hall as reports of a incident in Cambridge surfaced. By daybreak, we put out a series of communications asking residents of Boston to “Shelter in Place.” The City was quiet, but there was a flurry of activity just to the west.

At 7:50 p.m., I made my most visible contribution of the week, when I sent out this tweet from the Mayor’s account:


In five days, we held no fewer than seven press conferences, and Mayor Menino weathered physical and emotional weights to give dozens of interviews to local, national, and international media.

Week two

The FBI turned Boylston Street back over the City one week after the bombings. (City of Boston photo)
The FBI turned Boylston Street back over the City one week after the bombings. (City of Boston photo)

With a new week came new challenges. The investigation was far from over, despite the capture of a suspect. At the same time, we had to work toward re-opening Boylston Street — letting residents return home and business owners clean up to start working again.

In a moving ceremony on Monday, April 22, the FBI turned Boylston Street back over to the City. The next day, the City announced a play to return the street to its residents and business owners privately, before re-opening it to traffic and the public.

By Tuesday, April 23, One Fund Boston had received $20 million in donations, and we formally introduced Ken Feinberg as administrator.

Boylston Street re-opened to the public at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. The City announced the “Boylston Strong” effort, encouraging people to visit Back Bay businesses and offering free parking in the neighborhood.

Aggressive use of social media made the City’s messages much more effective during those two weeks in our history. No one had ever been told to “shelter in place” before, but hopefully they felt more comfortable with explanations coming out over email, text message, automated phone calls, Twitter, Facebook, and the traditional news media.

This was far from a traditional piece of work experience for me, but I hope our efforts made a difference for people.

I will be running the 2014 Boston Marathon with Caitlin and several of our friends. It will be the first marathon for each of us, except for one of our friends, who was stopped on Massachusetts Avenue, a mile away from finishing, with thousands of other runners last year.




Cities’ Readiness Initiative

bio_postal

John Guilfoil testified in the 2012 Boston Cities’ Readiness Initiative Tabletop Exercise, as the representative of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Office.

The Cities’ Readiness Initiative, or CRI, calls for the United States Postal Service to deliver medicine directly to residents in the event of a biological incident.

The philosophy behind CRI is that the Post Office is the only entity that has a network — letter carriers — capable of carrying out such a task on short notice, given their numbers and familiarity with neighborhoods.

At the 2012 exercise, Guilfoil emphasized the need for an active “Joint Information Center” consisting of state, federal, local, medical, and law enforcement public information resources, in the event of an incident.