The Eagle Tribune wrote a very nice editorial about people pulling together to help during the recent ice storm that crippled the region. They pointed out that many pitched in and praised the spirit of giving that characterizes the people of the Merrimack Valley. I would like to thank those in Methuen that showed the spirit that the Tribune editorial speaks of.
Our Department of Public Works was faced with a situation in which we had over 168 trees downed, with many taking down power lines and utility poles. They did an admirable job in difficult conditions, with all DPW Departments working on the problem. But the downed trees only were the most visible part of the problem. DPW, with power down, had to manually deal with water and sewer pump stations that lost power. All were kept going without incident. Our Water Treatment Plant and Water Storage Tanks were driven by backup generator without incident. During all of this activity our DPW responded to five water main breaks within 24 hours, as well as assisting in the pumping out of over 35 basements for our residents.
Our Emergency Management Team, headed by Police Office John Santoro, responded quickly and effectively to the crisis. We set up our first command post at the Methuen Police Department, with the operation soon moved to our Fire Department. That operation was up 24/7, and was staffed in large part by our Cert volunteers. These volunteers are part of our Emergency Management program, and have taken courses that allow them to bring an added level of expertise to our Emergency Management Operations. They staffed our Emergency Management Center as well as the shelter we set up at the CGS.
I would like to note the difficult operation that our team undertook to safely evacuate the residents of the Methuen Housing Authority senior population at Mystic Street and Edgewood Avenue. Due to the lack of power and heat at the MHA I gave a mandatory evacuation order at 4:00 p.m. on that Friday. Our teams consisted of all of the employees at the Methuen Housing Authority, as well as a large contingent of Methuen Police Officers under the direction of Captain Tom Fram. We went door to door with flashlights and brought in a big light pole to illuminate the parking lot, going over a roster of residents and accounting for them apartment by apartment. We took the residents out by bus to our shelter over at the CGS, where they were fed and kept warm. The Methuen Housing Authority team, led by Director Ken Martin, did an outstanding job, as did our police department. The evac was completed in about two hours in darkness and without incident. The MHA maintenance crew, led by Mike Farelli, deserves a special nod of recognition. My thanks to the MVRTA, who provided the buses used to transport our residents to safety, and then brought them back when we were repowered. The American Red Cross set up a regional shelter at the CGS, and kept our citizens safe and warm during the storm. Thank you to Deb Duxbury and her wonderful team.
My thanks to Methuen School Department Transportation Chief Brian Fowler, who did a great job of assisting us throughout the storm. Methuen School Food Services Director Wayne Vespa also was on hand to feed our citizens at the shelter, and I would like to publicly thank him.
Both Emergency Management Director John Santoro and Emergency Management Coordinator Deputy Steve Buote deserve our highest commendations for a job well done. That spririt referenced in the Trib editorial is alive and well in Methuen, and I am grateful to be the Mayor of a community that pulls together so well during a crisis. Thank you Methuen!
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