No Published Caption
No Published Caption

TOWNSEND -- One person was transported to the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester on Saturday following a motor-vehicle accident on Friday afternoon in front of Main Street Auto in Townsend.

The call came into the Townsend Police Station at 2:59 p.m. and EMS was dispatched. The accident occurred in the middle of the blizzard and an hour before Gov. Deval Patrick's state-wide driving ban.

Route 119 was shut down and the department requested an engine company due to fluids leaking from the vehicle, said Cpt. Mike Grimley. The department did not have any details on the current condition of the patient.

Throughout the towns of Pepperell, Townsend and Groton, this was the only reported blizzard-related incident resulting in serious injuries.

Pepperell Fire Chief Toby Tyler said none of his crew responded to any accidents. The whole night, the department responded to three medical calls and a fire alarm that went off, but nothing life threatening.

"It was relatively quiet," said Tyler.

The Groton fire/EMS crews staffed at every station from 6 a.m. on Friday to 11 a.m. on Saturday, said Chief Joe Bosselait. During the blizzard, they responded to two medical calls and a chimney fire; neither of the medical incidents were storm related.

Pepperell Police Chief David Scott said the only such accident he had seen was a plow that skidded into a telephone pole. But the incident did not result in any injuries or any loss of power. Grimley said the Townsend Fire Department was called to a similar incident that led to arcing wires, but didn't result in any power outages. In fact, none of the three towns had any reported power outages.

Town Administrator Andy Sheehan said Unitil had a couple of isolated outages in some of their other service towns, but none that he was aware of in Townsend.

"The driving ban was a huge benefit," said Sheehan. "It did help to get people off the roads, not only on the highways but on the local roads as well. I think it was a great call by the governor."

After arriving late Friday night, the storm left the local area mid-Saturday, leaving residents from surrounding communities to burrow out from the two and a half feet of snow left in its wake.

To help keep all the homebound residents occupied during the statewide travel ban issued by Gov. Deval Patrick, the Pepperell Fourth of July Committee held a spur of the moment snowman-making competition. The Frechette family won first place for their giant green sea monster styled after the character in the Disney World water parade. The second-place winners were Emma Benson and Lizzy Clement for their snowman fort. Both competitors won "Small Town, Big Bang" T-shirts.

Meanwhile, local highway superintendents said their crews were out all night on Friday and all day Saturday.

By the time the road ban was lifted on Saturday afternoon, nearly all the roads had been cleared in the three towns.

"It was right around 11 a.m. or noon on Saturday that we were starting to see everything break open," said Pepperell Highway Superintendent Peter Shattuck.

By 4 p.m., he said, the department was able to get everything cleaned up and the crew members headed home.

In addition to his regular seven staff members, Shattuck had hired nine additional crew members. The department doesn't hire private contractors.

"What I do is hire people and have them drive our trucks," said Shattuck. "It's much more cost effective to keep some of our older trucks and put people in them ... we have a little more control over it."

All the snow was hauled on Sunday to the Highway Department garage, where there now sits a heaping mountain of snow.

One factor that helped with the plowing was the nature of the snow, which was light and fluffy.

"It absorbs the salt up really good and works better. When you have a lot of water content in snow and it's cold out, the salt's not as effective. With that dry snow, it acted as a sponge and sucked it right up," said Shattuck.

Groton Highway Superintendent Tom Delaney agreed. In fact, he said, the wet, heavy snowfall that happened midmorning on Monday required more sand and salt than the blizzard. 

Combined with the light snow and the fact that there were no cars on the road, the blizzard cleanup was fairly straightforward, said Delaney.

"It was a good temperature to work with. The snow was light and fluffy. There was no traffic, so the cars weren't packing down the snow, so we were able to scrape it nice and clean," he said.

The primary difficulty was visibility.

"It was just coming down so hard that you couldn't see," he said.

It was right around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday that Delaney's crew finished up the roads, after pushing through since 7 a.m. the previous morning. At one point, Delaney had 30 pieces of equipment on the road, including 12 private contractors.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the department was still doing some minor cleanup, such as clearing the sidewalks. Having originally piled the snow in town center, they plan to remove the snow to the highway garage.

All in all, said Delaney, "I think we were in excellent condition where we were. We stayed out until the job was done. My hat's off to (the crew). They do a great job. It's a hard job, but they do it very well."

The Townsend Highway Department finished not long after, at around 5:30 p.m. Superintendent Ed Kukkula had 18 crew members on the roads, including nine contractors.

"Everything was done. We don't go home until the job is done," said Kukkula.

The amount of snow and the lack of visibility presented some difficulties, he said. In general, he said the night was pretty uneventful, largely because no one was on the roads.

"It gave us the opportunity to not have any interference during the beginning of the storm or the next day," he said.