LENOX — A six-family neighborhood on a flooded dead-end road is no longer cut off from the outside world by Sunday night’s torrential downpour, thanks to a coordinated emergency response by three town departments.
When the rampaging Yokun Brook surged above flood stage at Edgewood Drive, it disrupted and nearly wiped out a $1.2 million construction project underway for a new bridge designed to withstand major severe storms.
Through the combined efforts of the public works, police and fire departments, residents have a reinforced footbridge to reach their homes, and a temporary parking lot has been set up for their vehicles on the other side of heavily traveled East Street.
“We got everybody out and moved their cars out on Sunday night using a temporary bridge,” said DPW Superintendent William “Billy” Gop, surveying the scene on Thursday with Police Chief Stephen O’ Brien and Fire Chief Chris O’Brien.
Water service to the half-dozen homes has been restored, and Berkshire Gas is preparing to resume service as well, Gop stated. He even relocated and installed the residents’ mailboxes to the corner adjoining East Street, allowing the U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail and packages, including food and medication.
“Our greatest concern is the safety of the pedestrians getting to and from their vehicles parked across East Street,” Police Chief O’Brien said. Multiple solar-powered warning signs have been installed on both approaches to the intersection, urging drivers to slow down and beware of residents crossing the road on a new, well-marked crosswalk with safety cones, he added.
Other measures are being considered, including a possible emergency light tower for nighttime, O’Brien said.
“We’re very concerned about alerting traffic to severely lessen their speed on East Street,” he said. “These people have to get across the street somehow, into their new parking lot. I think the DPW and the Fire Department have gone above and beyond to really make this as safe as possible for the residents of Edgewood Drive as well as the commuting public.”
Any emergency involving the need for an ambulance would be handled immediately, Fire Chief O’Brien said. When necessary, a remote fire department engine company will be stationed temporarily on Edgewood Drive pending installation of a new temporary bridge in three to four weeks to resume vehicle access to residents’ homes.
“It’s all about public safety,” he added, “and the three departments have been the umbrella of public safety, and there has been no hesitation from anyone about doing things.”
Cost projections for the emergency repairs, and for resuming the major bridge replacement work were not yet compiled, said Gop, the public works superintendent.
The new bridge, originally targeted for completion by early October, is now expected to require a minimum of three additional weeks. The contractor is CD Davenport of Greenfield.