Blizzard of 1978
Walpole Times Articles
Town Relatively Free of Crime - February 16, 1978
After a brief flurry of random violence on Tuesday, Walpole stayed relatively crime free during the state of emergency.
Police chief Armando A. Betro said a few stores were broken into Tuesday night, and three youths were arrested for vandalism. Plate glass windows were smashed at the Shoe Outlet and Archer Kent at the Walpole Plaza and at MiMi's variety store.
The most bizarre break during the blizzard might have been an attempt to riffle Gallo's Flowers on East Street.
There were also reports of vandalism to town equipment. Vandals slashed the tires on at least two dump trucks. Thieves took the engine from a bus immobilized in East Walpole during the storm. One other man reported his snowmobile was taken. During the cleanup Sunday, a tow-truck driver was threatened at gunpoint when he tried to remove a parked car.
Walpole police were firm with motorists during the driving ban, but relatively few citations were handed out. Officers at the checkpoints set up during the driving ban said most drivers had civil defense passes. Some residents complained that they were told over the phone that they could run errands but were stopped when they tried to drive downtown.
There were few traffic accidents, Betro said. "They were all stuck at home."
Police reported only one arrest for violation of the curfew imposed by selectmen.
The curfew and the order to close bars and package delivery stores were credited with doing much to prevent more outbreaks of violence.
Clean-Up to End Today - February 16, 1978
Town Administrator Edward T. O'Neill told selectmen Tuesday night that clean up operations following last week's blizzard continue until today.
He said that he did not yet know the total cost of the cleanup to the town but added that the town could expect to be reimbursed by the federal government for all expenses contracted for safety measures through Friday.
O'Neill and Chairman Frank A. Farinacci plan to attend a meeting in Dedham tonight outlining federal disaster relief that will be available to area towns.
By Tuesday, the center of the town and East Walpole Center had been cleared of snow, O'Neill said. Crews were continuing to clear roads and remove snow mounds from intersections where traffic problems were expected. Most private contractors that worked on snow removal for the town had been released by Tuesday.
O'Neill estimated that the town's snow removal budget had already been overspent by $73,000. He said that all bills were not in yet from the January 20th storm, which he reminded the board had brought a record snowfall until last week.
Although the federal government will pick up most of the cost for snow removal after last week's storm, O'Neill said the town may have to pay the overtime costs for the police, fire, and public works departments. Fire chief Robert Gardener estimated the fire department spent $12,000 during the snow emergency for manning all three fire stations full-time and for marking hydrants ahead of snow removal equipment.
O'Neill concurred with School Superintendent John T. MacDonald's decisions to postpone the opening of Kindergarten through third grade until February 7, after school vacation. He told the board that MacDonald had been unable to arrange for buses to transport all elementary students and that both he and MacDonald were concerned about people walking on the snow-narrowed streets.
O'Neill singled out Pasquale J. Marino, Superintendent of the Highway and Park Division, for praise for his work directing the snow removal operations after the storm. He told selectmen, "Everybody owes a great deal of thanks to everyone who worked so hard to keep Walpole going - the police, the fire department, volunteers, civil defense, auxiliary police, the DPW."
He said snowfall this winter had already amounted to 85 inches, compared to an average of 48 or 49 inches for past winters. He pointed out that there was at least another month this winter during which heavy snows could be expected.
Town Struggles for Normalcy Ten Days After Storm - February 16, 1978
When the Board of Selectmen lifted its final emergency restrictions on traffic and stores Sunday, one member said, "Everything will be back to normal by 6 PM."
But it will take more than just the lifting of a curfew to bring Walpole back to where it was before the "Great Blizzard of '78" struck a week ago Monday night.
After nearly a week in a state of emergency, first declared by the governor and later extended by the selectmen, Walpole citizens were finally getting back to their normal routines, although snow removal and cleanup dominated the town well into this week.
Cost estimates for last weeks record-breaking storm are still being compiled, but the town has submitted a request for $500,000 in federal disaster relief, and town engineer Peter Boghossian has put the cost of cleanup at $30,000 a day.
The town is also eligible for federal reimbursement of 75% of the cost of the outside contractors it called in before Friday and all of the additional cost from Friday on.
Damage in Walpole during the storm was minor. One death, an elderly man who suffered a heart attack shoveling snow, was blamed directly on the storm.
One local resident, Harry A. Nunes of 1680 Washington Street, has been missing since Tuesday morning. The 37-year-old insurance agent last called his wife from the Boston area to say he was safe but stranded.
All the restrictions, with the exception of the parking ban on residential streets, imposed during the emergency have been lifted. The ban on parking continues while street-widening operations are underway.
While the roar of the diesel engines that for one week was the most common sound on Walpole;s streets has faded, some contractors are still engaged in clearing snow from some areas.
Walpole schools, with the exception of Kindergarten to Third Grade, are open this week as are most other schools serving local youngsters. Until sidewalks can be cleared, all students will be bussed to school, officials have announced.
Special education programs for the retarded and emotionally handicapped have been canceled at all schools.
Teachers in the primary grades are preparing packets to be sent home with older brothers and sisters of the first, second and third graders.
Most of the town's industries opened on Monday when the driving ban had been lifted. One employee of the Kendall Company plant on West Street was stuck at the plant from the day of the storm on.
Even after lifting the driving ban, stores and restaurants in Walpole experienced shortage of perishables, although deliveries were continuing.
While Walpole is still trying to assess its own damages, the local Red Cross chapter will be making an appeal through area churches for disaster aid for victims in the devastated coastline communities and elsewhere.
For local property owners, banks in town will have information on how to apply for low cost loans from the Federal Disaster Assistance Authority.
Chamber Applauds Storm Efforts - February 16, 1978
To the Editor:
During the bizarre blizzard of last week, the Walpole Chamber of Commerce takes social pride in commending the outstanding and untiring efforts of our local government, elective and appointive, all employees, and the magnificent work done by our local private contractors. Without the latters' ultra-modern, heavy equipment which moved mountains of snow so expeditiously, it would have taken the town much longer to regain any degree of normalcy.
The long hours, dedication of and effective planning, conquered, what, at the outset, seemed to be an impossible task.
To everyone involved, the Chamber, for a job exceedingly well done, extends grateful thanks and appreciation.
Alan D. Rockwood, President
Parish Says Thanks
To the Editor:
At a service last Sunday the members of Epiphany church offered prayers of thanks for the employees, both paid and volunteer, of Walpole for the grand job that they did during the storm. The members which wish to thank all those in Walpole who gave of themselves and went that extra mile for the benefit of others. The cooperation, friendliness, and services far beyond call are all very appreciated.
Speaking for the church members, Walpole has been known as a friendly town; this past storm shows how friendly we are. Thank you, everybody!
The Reverend John Griswald