Date :Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 | Time : 20:42 |ID: 9594 | Print

Piano warehouse roof collapses as six feet drifts close subways and the city considers dumping the excess in the ocean

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – As snow-choked New England and Boston braced for more snow later in the week, the region buckled under the weight of another two-feet that fell on Tuesday.

Freezing temperatures and almost two weeks of near-constant snowfall caused a section of roof at a Massachusetts music store that’s home to a $500,000 rhinestone-covered grand piano once owned by Liberace to cave in.

Rockland Fire Chief Scott Duffey says a roughly 100-foot-by-100-foot section of the pitched roof fell into the showroom early on Tuesday morning at the Piano Mill after 29 inches of snow landed in a matter of hours. No one was in the building at the time.

Duffey and store owner Rob Norris say it is unclear if the Liberace piano, which has 88,888 rhinestones was damaged. No one is being allowed inside until a structural engineer assesses damage.

Indeed, so bad has the situation become in New England that officials are considering dumping the snow by the truckload into the ocean, as forecasters warn of more snow on Thursday.

And on Tuesday afternoon, the head of Massachusetts’ transportation authority defended the decision to shut Boston-area subways and rail service after a record-setting string of snowstorms that has hammered the northeastern United States in the past two weeks.

Schools around the Boston area also remained closed as crews struggled to clear roadways after a three-day storm dropped about 2 feet (60 cm) across the region and warned that the weight of the snow could result in roof collapses.

Beverly Scott, chief executive of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said she had no choice on Monday afternoon but to order all rail services shut down, an announcement that came right before the evening rush hour and a few hours before the 7 p.m. shutdown.

‘Everyone who needed to have information, to our knowledge, had it with regard to the conditions we were facing,’ Scott told reporters, visibly angry about criticism of her handling of the storm. ‘We do not control Mother Nature.’

Limited bus service continued on Tuesday but Scott said it was too soon to say when full transit services would resume on the system, which carries about 950,000 riders on a typical weekday.

Commuters expressed exasperation at the shut down, intended to allow crews to clear snow from above-ground tracks after three trains loaded with commuters were evacuated due to snow-related troubles.

‘I was surprised at the MBTA shutdown. You can’t just shut down the city,’ Ariel Freiberg, 32, of Somerville, said as she waited at the main train station for an Amtrak train to New York. The Amtrak service was running at full capacity despite the MBTA’s shutdown.

‘The people it hurts are the people who really have to get to work,’ Freiberg said.

Heavy snow on tracks had caused trains to lose contact with the electricity-carrying third rail across the system’s 800 miles (1,290 kilometers) of tracks, prompting the shutdown, Scott said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh began talks with the city’s teachers union on how to make up some of the eight school days canceled so far this year due to the repeated storms that have hit the region in the past two weeks.

This has been the area’s snowiest 30-day period on record. Much of eastern Massachusetts has received more than 6 feet of snow so far this year, making for the ninth snowiest winter on record.

The repeated snow days were taking a toll on parents. Kelsey Wirth, 45, a climate change activist who works out of her home, said she was running out of ideas to occupy her 8- and 9-year-old daughters.

‘Work never ends. Even if Boston shuts down, life goes on,’ Wirth said. ‘When I heard school was closed again, I said, ‘OK, today is project day,” referring to lining up chores for her children.

Boston hospitals set up sleeping areas for workers, and police were offering rides to work for doctors and nurses.

Two high-profile Massachusetts trials have been further delayed by the snow. State court officials said testimony in the murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez would not resume until Wednesday. Jury selection for the federal trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also was called off Tuesday.

A Massachusetts state trooper helped deliver a baby after the mother went into labor on the way to the hospital.

The couple was driving to the hospital at about 2:40 a.m. Tuesday just hours after a huge snowstorm when it became apparent that the birth was imminent. The father stopped the car and called 911. When he noticed a cruiser approaching, he flashed the lights of his SUV to attract the trooper’s attention.

Trooper Patrick Devin assisted in the birth and wrapped the baby boy in a blanket.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at New England airports. Officials at Boston’s Logan International Airport said they hoped normal passenger service would resume by midday Tuesday. Amtrak canceled train service from Brunswick, Maine, to Boston because of snow removal.

The four-day storm which parked over the Northeast bringing fresh chaos to the region and breaking more winter weather records is expected to move away over Tuesday morning, bringing brief relief to the region.

Boston, which has been buried under 71inches of snow in the past three weeks, will be free of the current storm by 8am Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. Of that total, 22.3inches fell in the latest storm that started up Saturday.

However, the impact of the storm will still be felt, with school canceled and ongoing disruptions to public transport – not to mention huge mounds of snow that cleanup services have nowhere to put.

And the fleeting breather could soon be followed up with another storm, which forecasters say could swing in over the

Brutal: Taylor LaBrecque digs her car out of a snow pile on Beacon Hill in Boston on Monday as snow continues to fall

Though not expected to be snowy at first, by Thursday night the storm will start to intensify, bringing the threat of more unwelcome precipitation to the region, the Weather Channel predicted.

Whether the storm will strike New England hard, or just skirt by, is not yet certain, and will depend how close a low pressure system tracks to the coastline.

As well as Boston and Massachusetts, the snowfall has also hit Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Exasperated officials have despaired at the prospect of dealing with still more storms.

The latest squalls have eaten up vast amounts of budgets set aside to deal with bad winter weather. Boston’s $18million snow removal budget is gone, while Rhode Island’s $14million is depleted – along with its salt stocks. New Hampshire officials said they have spent 70 per cent of their winter maintenance budget, too.

Because of the desperate situation, environmental bosses in Massachusetts made the unusual decision of allowing people to dump snow in oceans and other open water if there’s nowhere else to put it.

Explaining the situation, Boston mayor Marty Walsh said Sunday: ”Quite honestly we’re running out of space where to put all the snow that we have in the city of Boston.’

In the course of Monday, the National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for central New York, the western Catskills and much of New England in preparation for yet another wintry week.


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