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Boston Copes With Its Deepening Blanket Of Snow


Let's visit a place hit hard by today's East Coast snowstorm. It is not New York City where the snow is far less than forecast, nor is it upstate New York where major highways are reopening. It is eastern Massachusetts. Anne Mostue, from member station WGBH, is at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency command center, and Anne, where exactly is that command center?

ANNE MOSTUE, BYLINE: Well, Steve, I'm about 40 feet underground in Framingham, Mass., about 15 miles outside Boston.

INSKEEP: Forty feet underground - so I guess you're covered up for any eventuality there?

MOSTUE: That's right. That's right. I don't know how many states put their governor in an underground bunker to monitor snowstorms, but that's what we do here.

INSKEEP: OK, I guess we should mention that you heard from the governor there. You are getting information. So as best authorities are able to tell, what is happening above ground?

MOSTUE: Well, the snow's still falling very heavily - up to 13 inches on Cape Cod and in other coastal areas. But it's very windy, so there are large snowdrifts. It's ankle-deep in some places and knee-deep in other places.

INSKEEP: And how bad is that for Massachusetts?

MOSTUE: Well, it's been tough. The number of power outages just jumped from 10,000 to 21,000, and most of those are along the coast. The governor says he's very happy that everyone's obeying the driving ban which went into effect at midnight. And he's asking people to shovel and clear out exhaust pipes today, but mostly just to stay put.

INSKEEP: I want to make sure I understand this driving ban. Is the governor saying that literally the entire state should not be driving? There is not a single formally open road in the entire state of Massachusetts?

MOSTUE: That's correct. The only reason for driving, they say, is if you have to go to a hospital, if you're a medical worker, a state public safety worker or someone plowing or involved with transportation. But all public transportation and all roads are closed in Massachusetts to driving (inaudible).

INSKEEP: Now, I'm thinking about the fact that a few years ago when there was 3 feet of snow in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital was completely unprepared for it 'cause it just doesn't happen here very often. How prepared, generally speaking, is Massachusetts, though, for a major snowstorm like this? Is this beyond what people are ready for?

MOSTUE: No, no. I think it's actually been very well-handled and well-prepared. I mean, we have a new governor who took over with the same operations as the previous governor. We've been paying attention - the press, here in the bunker - to how he's doing things differently. He's really not. The driving ban was something that the previous governor started doing, and it really makes a lot of sense.

INSKEEP: So this is a situation where - I guess, where you have a politician who is under the gun. I mean, this is something where people will be judged by their performance.

MOSTUE: Yes, he really is. The new governor, Charlie Baker, he's definitely under the gun.

INSKEEP: And any idea how long the situation will last, in a couple of seconds?

MOSTUE: Well, there's - the belief is that we'll all be back - things will be back up and running sometime late tomorrow. But they're just not lifting the driving ban yet.

INSKEEP: OK. Anne Mostue, thanks very much.

MOSTUE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's Anne Mostue of our member station, WGBH. She's in a bunker 40 feet underground in eastern Massachusetts, getting a little bit further underground as we go, as the snow continues to fall heavily there and in some other parts of the country. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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