East Providence counts its blessings as Hurricane Sandy departs
EAST PROVIDENCE — Most residents and officials of the city awoke Tuesday, Oct. 30, to find Hurricane Sandy had left East Providence rather unscathed in comparison to other parts of the state and especially areas in the northeast corner of the country.
Sandy's gusty winds did take down some trees, limbs and power lines locally, though the storm did not dump nearly the amount of rain some forecasters had predicted and caused a mere fraction of the damage felt in other communities.
"We were prepared. We were ready for more. I hate to say it, but in East Providence, at least, it was a piece of cake," said Fire Chief Joseph Klucznik.
The chief noted his department answered only 39 calls, far fewer than it did last fall during Tropical Storm Irene. At Sandy's peak, 92 homes were without power. National Grid, according to Chief Klucznik's statistics, said a total of some 115 residents lost electricity at some point during the storm.
East Providence had two emergency shelters set up for residents affected by the hurricane, though each was hardly used. Three people total from the city's south end went to the Primrose School just over the line in Barrington and no one came to the Senior Center location on Waterman Avenue. It was opened at 3 p.m. Monday and closed at about 9 p.m.
"I don't mean to make light of the situation. We had a few homes damaged by fallen trees and in the low-lying areas, especially in Riverside, we had some flooding. Those are hardships for those people, no doubt. But we had no major incidents. We had no loss of life, no serious injuries. We were extremely fortunate," Chief Klucznik continued.
He added, "We were concerned at each high tide (Monday). We sent out our battalion chiefs as scouts. They reported back that the water level was rising, but it eventually subsided like someone pulled the plug out of the bath tub. All I can say is we were very fortunate."
The chief along with his police counterpart Joseph Tavares, City Manager Peter Graczykowski, Public Works Director Steve Coutu, Finance Director Malcolm Moore and East Providence's Emergency Management Agency Deputy Wayne Barnes last Friday began to formulate the city's response to Sandy's expected impact.
Luckily, there wasn't a need to implement much of what the administrators planned.
"We were very well prepared. The storm just never materialized like they had predicted," Chief Klucznik said. "We were blessed. When the storm started to pick up strength, it started to pick up speed and move away from us.
"We didn't get hit anywhere near as hard as other places. New York and New Jersey got slammed. Here, Westerly, Narragansett and Tiverton got hit really hard. We were monitoring the situation all the time at our Emergency Ops Center at Station 3 (in Rumford). Our guys did their jobs. Wayne did a great job updating the residents and the press on what was going on.
"Everything we had in place was working and ready. We had good communication in the field. But like I said, we were just blessed not to be hit like other places were."