90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Friday, February 8, 2013

Blizzard Of ’78 Haunts Mass. Towns As They Prep For Storm

photo
Peggotty Beach in Scituate is pictured a day after the snow stopped, Feb 9, 1978. (blizzardof78.org)A wrecked house in Scituate. (Boston Globe/blizzardof78.org)Homes ravaged by the storm along Peggotty Beach, Scituate. (blizzardof78.org)Homes thrown about on Lighthouse Road in Scituate. Today, homes on this street have been rebuilt on piers. (Boston Globe/blizzardof78.org)Trampled homes along Rebecca Road in Scituate on February 9th. (Boston Globe/blizzardof78.org)On Scituate's Egypt Beach, Mrs. Joseph Conley inspects what is left of her house. The space is now empty. (Boston Globe/blizzardof78.org)A buried car in Scituate. (Bob Dean/blizzardof78.org)

Thirty-five years ago this month, the east coast was hit by the blizzard of ’78. In Massachusetts, the storm was responsible for 79 deaths and more than $500 million in damage, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The south shore towns of Hull and Scituate were among the worst-hit areas. The then-44-year-old Governor Michael Dukakis described the devastation on local television this way:

“To see those houses piled like doll houses on their side, to see houses just tipped into the ocean in Hull and Scituate,  to see an area in Scituate, North Scituate that I spent weeks in during the summer when I was three or four, looking like a pile of kindling, was almost unbelievable.”

The town of Scituate, Mass. is once again preparing for a monster storm.

Scituate Harbormaster Mark Patterson says commercial fisherman have had time to prepare for the storm, because it was well-forecasted.

“They’ve gone out and double-checked their lines and added some extra gear,” Patterson said. “They’re either pulling their [lobster] traps in or taking them out to deeper water, just trying to keep them out of harm’s way.”

Blizzard of ’78

Patterson was about 13 years old when the blizzard of ’78 struck, but he remembers it well. His family was evacuated from his house, which was completely underwater. They ended up moving after the storm.

Hundreds of homes were destroyed. A 5-year-old girl, Amy Lanzikos, was ripped from her mother’s arms when a rescue boat capsized, and a neighbor, Edward Hart, also drowned in the incident.

“It was a tragedy,” Patterson said.

Patterson says he hopes to avoid that kind of loss of life this time around. He says many people have already evacuated and boarded up their homes. But he acknowledges that there is only so much you can do to protect yourself from Mother Nature.

“This is part of life in New England,” Patterson said. “I guess in California, they have earthquakes and in other areas they have tornadoes and here we get nor’easters.”

Guest:

  • Mark Patterson, harbormaster in Scituate, Mass.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

We now have a digital bookshelf! Explore all our books coverage or browse by genre.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

February 26 34 Comments

That Political Bumper Sticker Could Cost You Your Job

In most states in the country, labor laws will not protect you from getting fired over a political bumper sticker.

February 26 2 Comments

Remote Mexican Villages Build Their Own Cell Networks

Thanks to cheaper technology, community organizers and computer hackers are bypassing the big cell companies.

February 25 Comment

DJ Sessions: New Music From Nashville

For this week's DJ Session, Marcia Campbell shares songs from Teea Goans, Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton and Earls of Leicester.

February 25 105 Comments

Feminist Gamer Withdraws From PAX East, Citing Safety Concerns

Video game developer Brianna Wu discusses the threats against her and her role as a feminist leader amid the Gamergate controversy.