How Does Scituate Prepare for Storm Season?


As a coastal town in New England, Scituate faces serious threats from extreme weather–especially during the fall and winter months. The Scituation crew was curious about how businesses and the Department of Public Works (DPW) prepares for these weather events, so we interviewed store owners and the director of the DPW to hear about how our coastal town prepares. 

Brian Doyle, owner of the Sand Hills General Store, was the first person on our tour around Scituate. Running a business can be quite difficult—and that’s before you factor in extreme weather. Stores like the Doyle’s rely on having the power to keep the food fresh and the frozen goods frozen. Doyle called power outages the most severe threat posed by extreme weather. The weather in Scituate can get quite intense, but not to the point that the building itself is placed in any real danger. Doyle said he has yet to see a storm that actually caused the store to flood; however, in preparation for a storm, the first action the General Store takes is to elevate all of the products. Any stock that is sitting in the back room is placed on elevated surfaces to protect it from water damage. The store also tests the generator and blocks doorways if needed.

Providing food and convenience, one of the strongest factors helping small businesses survive storms is the supportive Scituate Community. The Sand Hills General Store has been serving Sand Hills for years. During storms, the community helps keep the lights on by shopping at the store and providing business. Doyle said that during “the mercy of the storm” they can only hope that’s customers will come in.

The next stop on our tour was the Director of Public Works, Kevin Cafferty. Cafferty showed us around the facility, demonstrating the extensive equipment used to keep Scituate safe. Cafferty explained just how much the DPW does for Scituate every single day, such as sweeping streets, making sure the roads are clear, mowing and maintaining the grass of Scituate public property, and working with Scituate police and fire departments. 

During the summer, the DPW prepares for storm season by purchasing over 3000 tons of salt. The total cost of this year’s salt supply was cheaper than an estimated $72,000, due to the town’s early purchase. In the past few years, the DPW has extensively upgraded its arsenal of vehicles. Now having over a dozen Mac trucks, DPW personnel are able to drive through streets flooded with multiple feet of water. 

When the storm hits, people from all over come in to help. The DPW closely works with the Scituate police and fire departments. During storms, the main focus is the health and safety of the citizens. “For the 72 hours of the storm, they are all hands on deck,” Cafferty explained, noting how the crew is ready for any evacuation calls or other issues that will pop up across the town.

Unfortunately, Scituate is currently experiencing a plow driver shortage. According to Cafferty, “License requirements changes have made it more difficult to obtain a CDL (Commercial Drivers License).” The expense, combined with required classes to acquire a CDL, have contributed to the shortage.

No matter a citizen’s role in the Scituate community, it is evident that the community’s response during storms is a shared responsibility and effort.