TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Massachusetts City Reopening After Flood Threat

Massachusetts City Reopening After Flood Threat

Michael Kunzelman (
Fri, 21 Oct 2005 12:14:13 -0500

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press Writer

City officials reopened neighborhoods surrounding a storm-weakened
wooden dam Friday, four days after evacuating the area because of
fears that a collapse would flood downtown Taunton with several feet
of water.

Workers pumped millions of gallons of water from the rain-swollen lake
above the Whittenton Pond Dam and began shoring up the battered
structure Friday ahead of the new round of heavy rain forecast for the

Some 2,000 people in the city of 50,000 had been told to leave their
homes Monday. About half were allowed back Thursday night, but
hundreds of residents who live close to the dam were asked to stay
away. Mayor Robert G. Nunes lifted their evacuation order Friday.

As downtown businesses reopened, Anthony Lentine welcomed the
breakfast crowd back to his deli, estimating he lost $1,000 for each
of the three days he was closed. But he didn't blame town officials
for playing it safe.

"After seeing what happened in New Orleans, God forbid, we wouldn't
want anything like that to happen here," he said.

Authorities cautioned that the threat had not entirely passed for the
working-class city south of Boston. A state of emergency will remain
in effect until early next week.

"We still have the danger we had before," Fire Chief Joe Rose said. "Now
we're trying to fix it."

Water levels rose as the area got more than 11 inches of rain this
month, including 7 inches last weekend.

The pumping that began Thursday -- combined with dry weather --
greatly relieved the pressure on the 173-year-old wooden dam. But
another wave of foul weather expected to arrive this weekend could
push area waterways back to flood levels. With the water level
lowered, officials hope to make some repairs before then.

Authorities said that if the dam gave way, it could send a 6-foot wall
of water surging through downtown Taunton, about a half-mile

"We feel very comfortable with the decision we've made," the mayor
said. "We are seeing tremendous progress."

Thomas Shaughnessy, 25, was headed home from a high school-turned-shelter
with his girlfriend and their cat, but he wasn't convinced they're
completely safe.

"I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "I'm scared, but I think our
mayor made the right choices."


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Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

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