Blizzard Of ’78 Anniversary: 35 Years Later ‘Nothing Remotely Comparable’
BOSTON (CBS) – On February 7, 1978, Boston Edison’s John Murphy told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 anchor Gary LaPierre during the 5 a.m. news broadcast that the entire city of Boston was without power.
“We estimate there are about 100,000 customers now in the city without their electricity,” Murphy said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports
The Blizzard of ’78, which began on February 6, still had its grip on the region that morning. There were warnings to stranded motorists to stay in their cars and wait for help. There were appeals to snowmobilers to help with medical assistance.
Photos: Blizzard of 1978
Michael Goldman served as Communications Director at the MDC during the Blizzard of ’78. He spent six days in his office, helping to coordinate the emergency efforts in the wake of that monstrous event.
“Even now when you think about it in comparison to other events we’ve had, summer and winter, nothing is even remotely comparable to that event,” says Goldman.
Only essential personnel were allowed on the roads. Goldman says that phrase had never been used prior to the Blizzard of ’78.
“We would receive phone calls from people who would ask if they were an essential person, and I came up with the line that if you have to ask, you probably aren’t,” recalls Goldman.
Goldman also vividly remembers his response to the mayor of Lynn’s decision, two days after the blizzard hit, to allow GE employees to go back to work.
“I said anyone who is not on the essential list and is caught driving will have to pay a $1,000 fine,” says Goldman. He then confesses, ” I made it up! I only wish I had that kind of power.”
Former Governor Mike Dukakis always credits his Public Safety Secretary, Charlie Barry, for the state’s response in the blizzard’s aftermath.
“He was kind of the old man of the administration. He was 52. The rest of us were just a bunch of kids,” jokes Dukakis.
“Fortunately for us, Barry was obsessed with emergency planning. He’s the hero of the story. I just wore my sweaters, turned to Charlie at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when I’d go on TV, and ask him what he wanted me to say.”
Dukakis also says his sweater attire invariably comes up with talk of the blizzard.
“They always talk about the sweater. I would tell people that I had more than one, in fact, I had about a half dozen of them,” recalls Dukakis.
He added, “For the next six months, I couldn’t do a speaking engagement without being presented with another sweater. In fact, I had to take about a dozen of them down to the Morgan Memorial so that somebody could wear these good sweaters.”
On a serious note, Dukakis said the helicopter ride he took over the South Shore after the storm always stays with him.
“Looking at houses that looked as if some giant had just picked them up and thrown them all over the place. It was unbelievable,” recalls Dukakis.