, Newburyport, MA

February 11, 2013

Newburyport fares well in storm

By Lynne Hendricks

---- — NEWBURYPORT — Aside from receiving a near-record amount of snowfall, Newburyport’s downtown and waterfront emerged unscathed from the high winds and tide that plagued the region during the Blizzard of 2013.

And thanks to workers with the Department of Public Services who toiled through the night to keep roads plowed and treated with sand and salt, by the time the last flakes were falling Saturday afternoon, most of the city’s streets and roadways were clear.

It was a long night, however, for those who work along the Merrimack River, where it was feared the astronomical tide could cause the river to breach its banks.

“We’ve been up all night with the boats and all day long trying to clear all the snow and get everything going for the boats to get back,” said U.S. Coast Guard Boatswains Mate 2nd Class Patrick Castrillo.

But a loss of sleep was about the worst the storm dished out locally, said Castrillo, who said with five to six boats in the river and few docks to worry about at this time of year, the river was quiet.

“There have been no calls,” said Castrillo. “It’s actually been really quiet. We brought the boats up to Merry-Mar Boat Basin. We just brought them back a while ago.”

With the storm expected to cause widespread power outages across the region, Newburyport was spared in that regard, enabling Port City Sandwich Company owner Tyke Karopoulos to head down to his waterside shop and fire up his grills first thing Saturday morning. Though driving bans put in place by Gov. Deval Patrick at 3 p.m. Friday were still in effect statewide, leaving just a handful of customers — mostly city workers and pedestrians anxious to see the downtown under 2 to 3 feet of snow — Karopoulos’ shop was the only place in town where one could get a hot cup of coffee or a bowl of Port Sandwich’s famous chili.

“Not even Dunkin Donuts is open,” Karopoulos said proudly. “We fed the entire DPW that was up all night plowing, plus a lot of boatyard people who were interested in what’s happening on the waterfront this morning.”

Having remained open during Hurricane Sandy, when the river breached its banks and crept up as far as the Newburyport Lighting Company’s front door, located just next door to his sandwich shop, Karopoulos said the Blizzard of 2013 was a different beast.

“Sandy was much worse,” he said.