Wednesday October 31, 2012

FREETOWN -- Relieved that the state escaped the full brunt of Sandy’s fury, Mass achusetts officials offered a hand Tuesday to hard-hit states in the region while monitoring the progress of utilities restoring power at home.

Gov. Deval Patrick said damage assessment teams found no evidence of any serious infrastructure damage, though there were plenty of toppled trees and damage to individual homes and businesses. As of Tuesday evening, the number of Massachusetts customers without power had dropped to about 155,000, compared with some 400,000 at the height of the storm on Monday.

"We feel very fortunate, particularly as you look at some of the scenes and read some of the reports from New York and New Jersey and Connecticut," the governor said. He has been in touch with officials in those states to see what Mass achusetts can do to help.

The Massachusetts National Guard sent two helicopters and flight crews to New Jersey on Tuesday to assist with search and rescue efforts. Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey said the Massachusetts Bay Trans portation Authority was also prepared to offer technical assistance to New York City, if needed, to help restore service to its flooded subway system.

Many schools in Mass achusetts remained closed, but residents in south coastal areas were mostly relieved that the 6-foot storm surge caused by the powerful hybrid storm did not cause more extensive damage.


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Sarah Whittey, of Freetown, watched nervously as water from the Assonet River rose behind her home, a historic house built in 1720 and known to local residents as "Aunt Kate’s House."

"We have five steps in the back. When it came up to the second step, we were going to leave, but we saw it hold there so we decided to stay," Whittey said Tuesday.

"There were some prayers said on that back deck last night ... family first, friends, strangers, then property. We were very, very lucky."

At Grandpa’s Place, a variety store in Assonet, the parking lot was flooded when the river surged over its banks Monday evening and poured into nearby yards. Owner Liz Borges said she and her husband borrowed a truck and started loading up goods from the store.

"We loaded everything -- beer, wine, soda, candy -- everything," Borges said. "As soon as we got everything loaded, the water started to go back down. We didn’t lose anything."

Utility crews were working to restore power.

A spokesman for NStar said the company hoped to fully restore power by Thursday night. National Grid said it expected to have three-quarters of its remaining outages restored by midnight Thursday and most of the rest by midnight Friday.

Transportation was also returning to normal around the state. Service on the MBTA was fully restored by Tuesday with the exception of the D Branch of the Green Line, where buses were used.

There were no reports of damage to runways at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Patrick said. But commercial flight disruptions were expected to continue as a result of problems caused by the storm elsewhere.