Mayor: Newton Schools to Reopen Wednesday; Residents Should Take 'Extreme Caution'
As of this afternoon, more than 20 roads were still closed in the city.
Updated 11:02 p.m.
Twenty-four hours after Hurricane Sandy's strongest winds tore through Newton, more than 20 streets in the city remain closed and thousands of residents are without power.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Newton City Hall, Mayor Setti Warren directed residents to use "extreme caution" when walking through city streets and when looking at debris around houses, sidewalks or streets.
"Our first responders have done an excellent job and we're working aggressively to remove these tree limbs and coordinating with NSTAR," Warren said. "We are moving as quickly as we can."
Warren said residents should call the police dispatch number (617-796-2100) before attempting to remove branches in and around their property, as the limbs could be energized by live, downed wires.
In addition, Interim Police Chief Howard Mintz warned drivers and cyclists to be cautious while on the roads, as wet leaves and pavement can make stopping difficult.
As of this afternoon's 2 p.m. press conference, 3,100 residents were without power, Fire Chief Bruce Proia said, which is down from a high of 4,400.
"We are making some headway," Proia said.
According to NSTAR's outage map, just under 4,200 Newton customers were without power as of 5:20 p.m.
Warren said NSTAR has not given a definite time frame as to when power will be restored in the city. However, if residents call the city (617-796-1000), NSTAR has been able to work with city officials to give estimates for specific streets or neighborhoods.
NSTAR's website indicates Newton power will be restored by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1.
According to Health & Human Services Commissioner Dori Zaleznik, the city has not opened a shelter at this point as all the residents City Hall has spoken with have found other places to stay.
However, if power remains out for several days, Zaleznik says residents should call City Hall and staff can assist residents in finding somewhere to stay.
Zaleznik also recommended residents use the Newton Free Library for internet access and to charge phones or other electronics during a power outage.
Newton Public Schools
As for the Newton Public Schools, Warren said they will reopen on a normal schedule tomorrow after being closed Monday and Tuesday.
However, as of this afternoon, Ward Elementary was still experiencing a power outage, Warren said.
According to an email from Superintendent David Fleishman sent Tuesday night, Ward will either have power Wednesday or will run on a generator.
The most recent reports indicate that 21 Newton streets are impassable, Proia said, most of which are blocked due to downed trees or large tree limbs in the road.
The blocked streets are mostly small roads, Proia said, and all the main roads have been cleared. West Newton, specifically the Cherry Street area, seemed to be the hardest hit, he said.
The Newton Fire Department responded to more than 400 calls yesterday, Proia said, roughly 30 of which involved trees falling on a home.
Warren said families are welcome to trick-or-treat tomorrow, but should very careful while out walking on the streets.
Residents should leave for trick-or-treating as early as possible and bring ample lighting, Warren said.
"We knew and understand clearly that there are folks out there who will trick-or-treat," Warren said. "What we want to do is make sure people know there are still hazards out there and people need to use extreme caution."
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