Friday, May 24, 2024

Shoppers struggle with heavy rain and wind March 13 at the CambridgeSide Galleria. Strong rains returned Tuesday, but weren’t forecast to dump anywhere near the 10 inches of the previous week. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Forecasters backed off on predictions of heavy rain throughout Tuesday, and city workers — watchful after last week’s intense rainfall and flooding — said they’ve noticed the better weather already.

“I just took a ride to the neighborhood that had been impacted last week, and the streets look pretty good. There were some homes that have sump pumps, but I did not observe any actively pumping,” said Gerry Mahoney, head of the city’s Emergency Management Department, just before 10 a.m.

“We’re following the National Weather Service forecasts pretty closely,” he said. “At 8 a.m. they revised it and were saying the rain would be tapering off early, with only an inch of rainfall accumulating.”

At 5 a.m., the forecast was for heavy rain or thunderstorms throughout the day, ending Wednesday.

“Hopefully we’ll catch a break this week,” said Mahoney, a 27-year veteran of the Cambridge Fire Department. His department operates within the fire department.

By the middle of last week, North Cambridge had been hit hard by three days of sustained rainfall, causing flooding and subsequent closings of some roadways. The fire department said it responded to well over 100 weather-related calls, and some residents said they had five feet of water flooding their homes at the height of the flooding.

Rain accumulation peaked at 10 inches across the state.

Residents complained Monday — before the weather turned foul again — to the City Council about the lack of city preparedness and response.

“This is not new news to you. You know there is a history of flooding in North Cambridge … the city failed the area,” said Christine Andujar, a Harrison Avenue resident, during the public comment period.

She wondered why the city wasn’t working with Arlington to put up berms along the waterways and where the Department of Public Works was to help during the crisis. She praised firefighters for their help.

Now, she said, tot lots and other areas used by children are polluted by garbage and in need of cleaning, mulch and sand. She told councillors she hoped the areas would be cleaned and wondered what aid residents would get, either from the federal or state emergency management agencies, the city or through tax breaks.

Judy Johnson, of Antrim Street, noted that without the Mystic River Watershed flood plain, the situation would have been even worse. “If that wasn’t there, these people would have been even more under water,” she said. “If you take any more of these areas for development, these people will be even more under water.”

Public Works did have trucks out on the streets Tuesday to monitor the situation, Mahoney said.

A call was left with Public Works director Lisa Peterson at roughly the same time, but an assistant said she was out of the office — out in the rain.