FREETOWN, Mass. – Relieved that the state escaped the full brunt of Sandy’s fury, Massachusetts officials offered a hand Tuesday to hard-hit states in the region while monitoring the progress of utilities restoring power at home.
Gov. Deval Patrick said damage assessment teams found no evidence of any serious infrastructure damage, though there were plenty of toppled trees and damage to individual homes and businesses.
As of Tuesday evening, the number of Massachusetts residents without power had dropped below 200,000, compared with some 400,000 at the height of the storm on Monday.
“We feel very fortunate, particularly as you look at some of the scenes and read some of the reports from New York and New Jersey and Connecticut,” the governor said. He has been in touch with officials in those states to see what Massachusetts can do to help.
The Massachusetts National Guard sent two helicopters and flight crews to New Jersey on Tuesday to assist with search and rescue efforts.
Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey said the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority was also prepared to offer technical assistance to New York City, if needed, to help restore service to its flooded subway system.
Many schools in Massachusetts remained closed, but residents in south coastal areas were mostly relieved that the 6-foot storm surge caused by the powerful hybrid storm did not cause more extensive damage.
Sarah Whittey of Freetown watched nervously Monday as water from the Assonet River rose behind her home, a historic house built in 1720 and known to local residents as Aunt Kate’s House.
“We have five steps in the back. When it came up to the second step, we were going to leave, but we saw it hold there so we decided to stay,” Whittey said Tuesday.
“There were some prayers said on that back deck last night family first, friends, strangers, then property. We were very, very lucky.”
Truck driver Chris Marrero, 31, and his family spent the night in a Red Cross shelter in New Bedford after the storm’s high winds ripped the chimney and part of the roof off his apartment building and sent bricks and other debris crashing through a skylight in his neighbor’s apartment. No one was injured, but the building’s roof was badly damaged and the city deemed the building unsafe.
Transportation was returning to normal around the state. Service on the MBTA, which shut down Monday, was restored by Tuesday with the exception of the D Branch of the Green Line.
Communities were thinking ahead to Halloween, especially Salem, where the famed witch trials took place in 1680. About 50,000 costumed revelers are expected to show up for a day of events culminating with a fireworks display.