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A Closer Look at How Foxborough Weathered Hurricane Sandy

Despite boiling frustration with more power outages, the town of Foxborough emerged from Hurricane Sandy in relatively "good shape" thanks to the efforts of various town departments.

Aside from power outages, which continue to be a significant issue in Foxborough, the town weathered Hurricane Sandy very well, according to Foxborough Fire Chief Roger Hatfield.

“Overall, as you look at the community, we had a lot of success,” Hatfield said. “We didn’t have a lot of damages like we did last year.”

Hatfield said the storm caused relatively minor damage, most notable to three structures.

A section of roof blew off of Chace Lumber storage area on Washington Street

A tree came down onto an apartment building at Walnut Park Apartments on 12 Fuller Rd.

A couple of trees came down on houses and five trees came down on power lines.

Hatfield added there were no injuries reported during the storm.

Foxborough Chief of Police Edward O’Leary said the police department received over 100 calls related to the storm Monday with the majority of them reporting downed power lines, tree limbs and alarm activations.

Hatfield said police and fire began receiving calls around noon Monday until 10 p.m. that night and again at 11 p.m. to around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Foxborough’s Department of Public Works reported most of its efforts were focused on debris and tree removal. DPW director Roger Hill said the debris was much less than what the department saw during last year’s storms and his crews were able to keep the roads in good shape throughout the Hurricane Sandy.

“The town’s roadway structure is pretty well intact,” Hill said. “We [didn’t] have a lot of closed roads.”

Hill said the key to the DPW’s success this year was splitting the town into four quadrants, which allowed quicker response to affected areas.

“We put a piece of heavy equipment and three guys at each quadrant and it really worked out better than last time,” Hill said. “If police or fire found a problem we needed to be at, we were at it very quickly. We go the big stuff out of the road.”

One message Hill did have for residents was that everyone needs to do a better job of clearing storm drains.

“Everybody needs to become a catch basin cleaner, especially this time of year,” Hill said. “We [had] some localized flooding and it’s mostly due to the fact that the catch basins are clogged with leaves.”

Two of the town’s water pumps went down during the storm but Hatfield said the town had plenty of supply in the storage tank and Hill added the demand for water is very low this time of year.

Police and fire worked with National Grid well into Wednesday as the utility company continued power restoration efforts in the Wayne Road, Old Colony Road, Lakeview Road and Hope Avenue areas of town.

Foxborough Public Schools were closed two days as result of Hurricane Sandy before reopening Wednesday for Halloween, which was not cancelled this year in wake of the storm.

At the peak of the storm Monday, 75 percent of the town was reportedly without power. National Grid lowered that number to the range of 10 to 20 percent by Tuesday morning and spent Wednesday trying to restore hundreds of homes in town still without power.

The power outages, for some residents, lasted three days and were mostly caused by the Union Loop, which is the transmission line from a sub-station in Attleboro that distributes power to Foxborough.

“Union Loop has 12 sections to it and five of those sections were compromised in some way,” said Foxborough Town Manager Kevin Paicos. ... “That was what was responsible for most of the community being without power.”

That same Union Loop was responsible for both power outages following storms last year and is an issue that town officials expect to address with National Grid in the near future.

“Union Loop appears to be vulnerable to all sorts of weather,” said Paicos. “We’ve got to get this fix so it doesn’t happen again because we are certainly going to have additional storms.”

The Foxborough Board of Selectmen has requested National Grid president Marcy Reed attend an upcoming meeting to answer questions and address the Union Loop issue.

Paicos added one of his frustrations with National Grid is trucks and crews are still not responding to town fast enough.

“I’m still not seeing trucks here fast enough,” Paicos said. “Crews should have been out at 5 a.m. [Tuesday] in buckets working. There wasn’t enough wind to prevent them from doing that and no one was out there.”

Foxborough Board of Selectmen chair James DeVellis said the board will be addressing this issue at future meetings.

“I don’t know what we are going to do but it is going to start at this table, we are just sick and tired of it,” DeVellis said during an emergency BOS meeting Tuesday.

Despite the growing frustrations from power outages in town, officials recognized the hard work that was put in by all to weather Sandy, including those at National Grid.

"I commend National Grid, Tom Coughlin [National Grid liaison] and [Foxborough Fire Deputy Chief] Steven Bagley for their commitment to the town," Hatfield said. "I’m happy we are [nearly fully restored of power as of Wednesday night] and I appreciate the folks of Foxborough being patient and working with all of us to make this right."

Hatfield also commended the police and fire departments “for getting out there and dealing with a lot of volume in regards to alarms, activations and calls” the town had.

Hill said from the DPW’s perspective, he was pleased with the town’s response to the storm.

“I’m happy with the way things went from our point of view,” Hill said. “The guys did great. … “I want to thank the Chief of Police, Fire Chief for great cooperation throughout the storm.”

DeVellis also thanked all in town that helped Foxborough manage the storm.

“I can’t say enough for the [DPW, Board of Health, Police and Fire Departments],” DeVellis said. “We did as much as we could.”

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