North Andover suffered nearly $30 million in flooding damages from Aug. 8 storm, town manager says

Weather

“The impacts of that unprecedented rainfall reverberated throughout our community with residents, businesses and our own buildings…in ways never seen before,” the town manager wrote in a letter to MEMA.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton passes a flood line as he walks into the basement of Jaime’s Restaurant. He was touring the damage caused by flooding on Aug. 8. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

North Andover suffered nearly $30 million in flooding damages during severe storms that flooded many communities in Massachusetts earlier this month, according to the town’s manager.

Heavy rains came down across the state on Aug. 8, causing rain totals as high as 7.2 inches in Billerica and 6.24 inches in Lawrence. North Andover suffered some of the worst flooding and declared a state of emergency.

The town received about six inches of rain over a six-hour period, Town Manager Melissa Murphy-Rodrigues said in a letter to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) on Monday. Just between 10 a.m. and noon, about 3.5 inches of rain came down.

A menorah rests on a pile of debris left behind by Aug. 8 flooding at the East Mill building in North Andover. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

“The impacts of that unprecedented rainfall reverberated throughout our community with residents, businesses and our own buildings…in ways never seen before,” Murphy-Rodrigues wrote.

Now that the town has completed its initial damage report, the town manager said, it estimates that it suffered about $29,910,087.57 in damages. That includes damage to businesses, residences, and public works.

Breaking down the numbers

North Andover businesses suffered the most flooding damage by far, Murphy-Rodrigues said.

Among 56 businesses, $21,554,108.48 was reported in damages. Many of them were small businesses that are still unable to re-open, the town manager said.

Wet insulation clings to the bottom of a rolling office chair inside the East Mill building in North Andover. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Homes suffered the second-most damages, with 309 residences reporting damages totaling $4,987,839.39, Murphy-Rodrigues said.

That doesn’t include the cost to repair the privately-owned dam and road abutting Town Hall. The road was so badly damaged that the town had to cut off access between the downtown and those neighborhoods, the town manager said.

Mario Carvallo leans in to get a closer look at the damage inside the East Mill building in North Andover left behind by the flooding on Aug. 8. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Public facilities, including municipal, school, and airport buildings, are estimated to have suffered $3,367,846.70 in damages, Murphy-Rodrigues said. This doesn’t include the cost to repair the town’s railroads.

Among the public damages is the cost to repair roads that were “completely washed away” and cemeteries where historic gravestones sunk into the ground, the town manager said.

What it was like as the flood waters took over

In the letter, Murphy-Rodrigues described the devastation in North Andover on Aug. 8 in painful detail.

Firefighters pulled residents out of homes as water levels rose as high as electrical meters, she said. Authorities cut power to entire sections of town as they struggled to determine what houses were flooding.

The town’s housing authority was forced to evacuate buildings and relocate seniors to family homes and hotels, she said. Town Hall became a shelter for families and pets.

“And even today, thirteen days later, we still have residents without power. We still have residents who [cannot] return home. We still have residents taking an accounting of their losses, asking for [clean-up] supplies, removing water from their basements, first floors and garages, and struggling with damage to their foundations and infrastructure,” she wrote.

The state of local businesses was even more dire, the town manager said.

Toys are strewn everywhere inside the East Mill building in North Andover, which was hit by flooding on Aug. 8. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

“We responded to businesses town wide to find flood waters five feet high forcing our firefighters to break glass and evacuate employees,” she wrote. “We saw parking lots flood until you could only see the tops of cars, and we watched businesses that had survived the Columbia Gas crisis and struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic literally get swept away by level-three contaminated floods.”

Some of those businesses were new, like the toy store and the vet clinic, while others were “long loved staples in town” like Jaime’s Restaurant and Sutton Street Service, Murphy-Rodrigues said.

Carol Hedges, of Gloucester, helps throw away items in the basement of Jaime’s Restaurant as she and others work to clean up from the damage caused by the flooding on Aug. 18. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

North Andover’s recovery so far

In the days following the first storm, North Andover received help cleaning up the town from the American Red Cross and MEMA, the town manager said. It has also received money from the state for emergency spending.

But insurance companies have already rejected some residents’ insurance claims, Murphy-Rodrigues said.

Then, last Friday, three more inches of rain came down over a two-hour period. The town hadn’t had time to recover, and the excess water hadn’t drained from the ground, so the storm caused additional damage to many of the same businesses, the town manager said.

Mike LaBarre fishes on Lake Cochichewick while water sits on Route 133 after flooding in North Andover on Aug. 18. – Vincent Alban/The Boston Globe

Murphy-Rodrigues told The Boston Globe Tuesday she hopes the letter will convince MEMA to help the town secure funding from FEMA — its federal counterpart — and give businesses and residents any possible additional assistance.

MEMA did not respond to a request for comment from the Globe Tuesday.


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