DPW Superintendent Tim Cota shows state Rep. John Barrett III and state Sen. Adam Hinds pictures of the road damage caused by two severe rainstorms.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town sustained well over $1 million in damage from the two recent rain storms that ripped apart flood control infrastructure and flooded streets.
State Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. John Barrett III toured the affected areas on Friday morning and saw the worst of the damage. It was clear to both state officials that the $680,000 they wanted to secure was not going to cut it.
"I don't think that is going to be enough … we probably have to amend that figure," Barrett said. "This is unbelievable. It just came out of nowhere."
The town was hit hard twice in less than a week — on Sept. 12 and 18. Flooding was amplified by failed culverts and compromised drainage that could not handle the deluge. The town was twice forced to close areas of Lime, Davis, North Summer, and Charles streets.
Before touring the problem areas, Department of Public Works Superintendent Tim Cota presented pictures of the damage and pointed to a sinkhole on Glen Street, damage on East Road, and an uprooted culvert on Charles Street among other damage.
He said a lot of what was washed out was put in when the roads were repaired after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
"As you can see the volume was just tremendous," Cota said. "It just started to destroy everything on both sides of Lime and Davis Street ... it washed everything out on both sides and got into people's basements. It basically wrecked everything. ...
"They call it a microburst, but this is worse."
Dan Lovett of Hill Engineering also attended the meeting with some cost estimates rounding out to $1.2 million – the most expensive repair he addressed was the Glen Street reconstruction that is slated to cost $500,000.
Lovett said there are some projects he did not address.
The town's highway department can make some of these repairs, said Cota, but what it can do is limited.
Hinds noted that there is less funding available because of the singularity of the destruction. Adams took the brunt of the damage from the storms.
"The nature of being so concentrated without other parts of the region being impacted, usually we would have a declaration of some sort of emergency which triggers us getting more funds," he said. "So absent that, it becomes a real interesting mix of private and public damage."
Emergency Management Director Richard Kleiner added the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency funding is also not an option.
Hinds said that beyond making emergency repairs, funding needs to be allocated to address flood-control issues so this does not happen again.
"Watching all of this … maybe when we get past this we have to see what else is going on," he said. "So we are ready for future flooding."
Selectman John Duval said he was concerned about personal property damage and noted how the Selectmen were approached at Wednesday night's meeting by irritated residents with long lists of damages.
"We had several residents come and they were talking about their own property and asked if the town would pay for damage and we can't do that," he said. "It is a tough answer and insurance companies won't pay for that."
Cota said those who he has talked to were unable to get any reprieve from insurance.
Barrett said he will work together with Hinds and try to find some relief for the homeowners. He noted that in the past seven years many of these homeowners have faced damage from flooding multiple times.
"The homeowners are left to hang out and dry to a certain degree and I think we need to look around at it," he said. "To me, this is as important as the flood-control walls that they have down at the beach areas in the eastern part of the state. I think we need to address this problem in Adams and throughout the county."
About a dozen residents dominated the Selectmen's meeting Wednesday during public comment and called the town negligent and unprepared. Some alleged the town did not properly clean out the culverts and others were disappointed they did not receive direct aid from the town during the storm.
Many asked why the flooding seemed to be getting worse.
Interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan said storms are getting bigger and the town's drainage system was not designed to handle so much water.
"This is true across the town and across the commonwealth. Our existing storm drainage system is based on storm events that are in the past," she said. "We have to upgrade our system to accommodate these intense storms."
She added that replacing every pipe in town is not an option because this work is very costly. She said the town needs to be strategic in where it makes upgrades.
Selectman Joseph Nowak agreed and said hydrology is complicated and although the town is working toward these improvements it can't happen overnight.
He added that he has noticed more flooding on his own property on East Road. He said the water was not as intense in the past.
"You can see it throughout Adams when we have these heavy rain events. Living in a valley with ledge we don't have much absorption when it is coming off the mountain," he said. "We haven't seen this before and I am a believer in climate change … and we realize this is going to happen more and more because of our topography."
Cesan did note that the town is working toward a solution in the Grant Street area and recently underwent a survey to evaluate drainage. She added that like many other areas in town, the area is peculiar.
"There are oddities in the neighborhood that could be related to ledge and we need to determine where the ledge is," she said. "We have streams and we don't know where they start or where they end."
However, this did not quell North Summer Street residents who said their street was underwater. One woman said she had to stand outside with a rake constantly cleaning out the open drains and another woman said cars passing through created a wake that was crashing into her house.
Cesan said the town needs to do a better job at making sure when a street is closed so cars do not pass through.
"Quite frankly, we barricaded the entrance and the case here it was able to have traffic on each side," she said. "Unfortunately, that reality is the DPW, they have their barricades out everywhere and we need to order more."
Selectman James Bush added that people need to simply follow the rules and not enter a closed street.
"When the sign said road closed please do not go down there," he said. "You are endangering people's lives."
Cesan said the town also needs to make sandbags more available when such a storm is in the forecast and did add there will be an even stronger effort to keep drainage clean to comply with the MS4 Stormwater Management program.
She added that as a whole, the town needs to re-evaluate its emergency management plan and that stakeholders will once again hold regular meetings.
"Quite frankly our plan is boilerplate and it is very generic, and we need to update it an make it Adams specific," she said. "We need to include flooding events, heating events, and identify shelters…we need to be better prepared."
Barrett said Friday that funding for the emergency repairs will not be enough and to truly address the issue there will need to be a "Phase 2" to right the town's stormwater management infrastructure.
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The girls got to go behind the scenes at the Florida theme park.
ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly a dozen local girls had the chance to perform in front of thousands at Disney World last year.
Dancecapade owner Jaclyn Grabicki brought 11 of her dancers to the Florida theme park in mid-December to perform alongside 45 other studios.
"When I opened my studio that was something that I kind of prided myself on. I wanted to give the girls opportunities to get out of this area to see other venues," she said. "Watching them dance at Disney and watching them perform was the greatest thing for me to see because it is something that you don't think you are ever going to be able to do for them."
Grabicki said the trip was not a competition but rather an opportunity for her girls to perform on a world stage at Disney Springs and a parade through the Magic Kingdom.
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
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