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They got flooded with 911-calls

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It was a challenging Saturday for police and firefighters who responded to one of the town’s worst flooding events in recent memory


By Mark E. Vogler


Saugus police and firefighters didn’t have to go very far around noon last Saturday when the town encountered the worst of the flooding. If they were on duty at the town’s Public Safety Building on Hamilton Street, all they had to do was look out the window and see the water rising over the street – which got so bad that police had to block it off for about four hours.

“I saw a couple of dumpsters floating behind the barbershop,” Saugus Fire Chief Michael C. Newbury said yesterday as he reflected on the sights and sounds of what he observed from what he considers one of the worst flooding events he’s worked on during his 25 years with the Fire Department.

“I talked to a homeowner who said he’s been here 40 years and that this was the worst…If a homeowner says it’s the worst time, 10 times out of 10, you’d take him at his word,” the chief said.

Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli, another public safety official who has spent his career in his hometown, agreed with Chief Newbury that it was one of the worst flooding days he’s witnessed. “It’s right up there with the Blizzard of ’78 and the 2018 storm,” Chief Ricciardelli said.

“We [police] and the Fire Department were pretty busy overall on Saturday,” he said.

Public safety dispatchers were flooded with 911 emergency calls during the peak of the flooding, which forced the Police Department to set up roadblocks on Hamilton Street and down on Route 107 for about four hours. “Revere police ended up doing the same on their side [of Route 107],” Chief Ricciardelli said.

The Saugus Firefighters Local 1003 Facebook page summarized the challenge faced repeatedly by local responders:

“Today, Saugus Firefighters Local 1003 along with Saugus Police Department and the DPW, responded to MULTIPLE calls on the east side due to flooding from the overflowing high tide.

“Flooded neighborhoods made it hard for apparatus to get to some of these calls, making them walk through the water, some of which was up to their knees or higher, to make sure citizens were okay.”

Saugus firefighters responded to “dozens of calls” to assist residents dealing with flooded basements. Water in the basement poses potential safety hazards, particularly if the flooding waters creep close to electrical and heating sources, according to Chief Newbury.

Firefighters responded to a call for a structure fire, which ended up being a garage or shed. Officials were able to isolate the power in the house from the shed and minimize the problem.

Unlike a few years ago, when firefighters used a boat to evacuate a resident from her home, there were no water rescues on Saturday, according to the chiefs.

“It was a tough day for the homeowner,” Chief Newbury said.

“But I can’t say enough about the police, the Fire Department, the DPW and the dispatchers who got a lot of calls. They all worked hard and they didn’t stop,” the chief said.

No information was available at press time on the financial toll of the flooding on town residents. There were reports of some parked cars being damaged. A red car was observed bobbing in the water in an area behind the Hamilton Street Shopping Plaza.

Other than Hamilton Street, the worst flooding in town occurred in East Saugus. Seagirt Avenue, Venice Avenue, Houston Avenue and Spencer Avenue were among the streets in Precinct 10 that were flooded.

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