In Marshfield, Governor Deval Patrick and US Representative William Keating meet with storm evacuees
MARSHFIELD – Accompanied by an unshowered US congressman, Governor Deval Patrick stopped by the Furnace Brook Middle School complex where 100 people, 20 cats and dogs, two geckos and one parakeet have found shelter from the weekend snowstorm.
US Representative William R. Keating, whose district includes this South Shore town and other coastal communities hard hit by the storm, said that he has been without power since Friday. The Democrat, who lives in Bourne, acknowledged that he doused himself with cologne to help others tolerate his presence.
More seriously, Keating said he has tried to get accurate information from NStar on power restoration for himself and his constituents in the Ninth District, but without any real success. National Grid, he said, has been clearer on its restoration plans, and he urged NStar to follow suit.
Keating said NStar’s failure to tell people when their power will be turned back on has made it hard for homeowners to decide what to do next. If NStar was more forthcoming, he said, people could answer the major question confronting them today: “Do I try to stick it out for one more night?’’
The governor met with his Cabinet at the shelter at this town’s middle school and then toured the facility and talked to those staying there, including Moneyed Coppola 98, who asked Patrick for help digging out her driveway. She and her neighbor, Wes Philbrick, 90, were taken to the shelter by ambulance Friday night.
“I envy their patience,’’ Patrick said of them.
Speaking in broader terms, the governor said the response by the major utilities in the state has been better than after the October storm where some 800,000 lost power, many of them for days. But he said he understands that the patience of those without power this time around “will soon wear thin.’’
About 100,000 customers were powerless this morning, down from a high of 400,000 this weekend, he said.
Patrick called on the public to be patient with the snow removal and power restoration efforts.
“It’s going to take a little to pick it all up, and put it all together,’’ the governor said.
Earlier today, Patrick drove on Route 3A from Scituate to Marshfield. The route “itself is pretty clear,” he reported, “but just off to the side are lots and lots of downed wires.’’
Kurt N. Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said the state is currently tallying the amount of damage before asking for federal aid.
“We will hope to qualify,’’ Schwartz said. “We need to do analysis first.’’
Schwartz said many communities will likely qualify for payments from the Federal Emergency Management Administration to help pay for the massive snow removal task. Under FEMA rules, a community may qualify for a 75 percent repayment of removal costs.
FEMA also offers assistance to individuals -- which Schwartz said can be hard to qualify for -- and to businesses through Small Business Administration loans.
Many of those still staying in the Marshfield shelter were grateful to see the governor today. Lois Viau, a 69-year-old retiree whose power went out Friday evening, said she woke up Saturday morning to temperatures that had dropped to 40 degrees and realized she should have left.
“They are doing a wonderful job here,’’ she said said of the shelter volunteers. “Plenty of food. That’s all you have to do is eat.’’
Viau said has been passing time by wandering through the middle school hallways for a little exercise. “My regular Zumba class is canceled today,’’ she said.Noah Bierman can be reached at NBierman@Globe.com Follow him on Twitter @NoahBierman. John R. Ellement can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.