Just One Story From the Flooding

I’ve been so busy covering flooding I really haven’t had a chance to blog about it. It’s been all out just for the paper, but the family I got to write about Tuesday night is worth some extra commentary.
I was already at this house two weeks ago. You can see their house in the third picture down in my entry from that day. It’s the gray ranch.
And back I went last night. River Road is non existent for the most part, as you can see in the video blow. The water damage has grown even worse, and there were the Chidseys, still hanging on.
One thing that always impresses me is the composure of some of the folks I get to meet while doing this job. Tony and Diane Chidsey weren’t just hanging on.
They stood in a little disbelief as a video of their retaining wall led the Channel 7 news at 6:30 p.m.
“I can’t believe that’s our house.”

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Diane Chidsey took that photo with her phone.
Tony still kissed his kids as Diane took them to bed. He still told jokes about his dogs, two huskies.
He was still thinking about how to walk them with all the destruction around his house.
Here’s our video of the waters outside their house that Julia Malakie got yesterday.
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1570028818
As we move on past the flooding, their concerns will remain about the drainage on River Road being fixed, instead of the road just being repaved.
Their concerns will remain about a development up the hill may have changed the runoff patterns and created some of the troubles.
I’ll be pushing for the newspaper to give those concerns just as much attention as we did when the Chidseys were facing disaster.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time at the paper, is that these types of things will happen again.
“This is Massachusetts, not Arizona,” Tony Chidsey said. “We’re not going to have perfect weather for 10,000 years.”

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Oh Hi There!

It sounds as if at least one car thief in Lowell got one hell of a surprise this morning after boosting a Grand Marquis from Saints Medical Center.
You see, Sandra, a former Lowell resident who moved to rural Vermont years ago, was back in town visiting and had to stop at Saints to get some paperwork.
In Vermont, she often leaves her keys in her car with no problem. She didn’t mean to do it this morning when she parked her car with her 4-ways on outside Saints and ran inside for literally just a few minutes.
But, this is Lowell, and you probably already guessed that her car was gone when she came back outside.
There’s a little more to the story, though, and Sandra thinks the thief probably realized it a few blocks away, when her 110 pound Rottweiler/Doberman mix woke up from the nap he was taking in the back seat.
“I knew he wouldn’t leave the car,” Sandra said of her dog, Zeus. “He was probably sleeping when the guy jumped in, and two blocks later the guy probably had Zeus growling at him from the back seat.”
That part can’t be confirmed, but what can be confirmed is that after a day of intense worry, (Sandra had to have another dog put down a week ago due to medical problems and was distraught over possibly losing Zeus too), the car turned up about 5:20 p.m.
Officer Robert Rayne found her car parked along Charles Street, just a few blocks away. It was undamaged, but her purse was missing.
After seeing the 110 pound protective dog in the back seat, Sandra things the thief “probably grabbed the pocketbook and jumped out of the car.”
She still has Zeus, though. Sandra seems okay with having her pocketbook and checkbook replaced.
Chalk this one up to happy endings, and a car thief who might need to change his pants.

30 Drag Racers – 1 Real Genius

One wiseguy got arrested for trying to run down a police officer Saturday night after officers cornered about 30 cars that had been drag racing in a commercial lot off Plain Street.
Officers went to Foundry Street about 10 or so and blocked the end of the street after getting a report of numerous vehicles drag racing.
A bunch of cars tried to speed off, only to have their drivers soon realize that Foundry Street was the only way out of the lot.
Police said roughly 30 vehicles soon lined up in a line in front of a cruiser, and officers ordered them all to turn off their engines.
One driver, an apparently irate Israel Carrillo, 22, of Lawrence, stopped briefly, revved his engine, and then put his car in drive. Police say he tried to run down Officer Mindy Dower, who had to dive to the right to avoid the car.
Police soon got Carrillo stopped, and he lucked out by being the only person at the scene to face charges.
He was booked for assault with a dangerous weapon (car). He will be arraigned this morning in Lowell District Court.
Drag racing has been a problem in the city in recent years, but police were apparently unable to find a reason to charge the other drivers since they were not on a public road.

Pizza Guy Robbed

Police were called to a Gorham Street gas station tonight about 9 p.m., after a pizza delivery driver went there to report that he had been robbed.
The driver told police he went to 170 Agawam Street a few minutes earlier.
That’s where a man pressed a pistol against the driver’s stomach and demanded his money, according to police radio broadcasts.
The man took the driver’s cell phone and cash, and fled toward Meadowcroft Street.
The suspect was described as a white male, about 6’2, wearing a multi-colored jacket.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Stabbing Investigation

As if a regular stabbing investigation isn’t challenging enough, tonight city and Dracut Police are investigating what happened to a 30-year-old man who showed up at Lowell General Hospital this afternoon with a potentially life-threatening stab wound.
Police were notified that the victim was at Lowell General about 6 p.m. He was quickly flown from there to a Boston Hospital, though, and as of Saturday night police were still waiting for updated information on his condition.
I’m told that police do not believe initial reports that the stab wound was self-inflicted.
Detectives are investigating how and where this happened.
Anyone with information is asked to call Lowell police at 978-937-3200 or Crimestoppers at 978-459-TIPS (8477). Information can also be sent to police via Text-a-Tip, by texting TIP411 (847411) with the subject “LPDTIP.”
Tipsters can remain anonymous, but can receive up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Five Car Crash

Police were called to Stevens Street and Princeton Boulevard tonight for a reported multi-car crash, and ended up finding that a 46-year-old woman in a Pontiac Grand Prix had struck five parked cars along the street.
She was taken to Lowell General Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
She struck a Mazda 3 parked on the left side of the road near Edson Street, as seen here…

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Then traveled about a block down the street where she really struck a Mazda 626, as seen here…

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And that pushed the Mazda into a Toyota Siena minivan and a Honda Accord.
Here is a photo of the wreckage at the intersection.

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Witnesses said the Grand Prix had small flames coming out of it after impact, but firefighters quickly took care of that.
No word on what caused this, or if there will be charges.
Princeton Boulevard was closed between Stevens and Edson streets while crews cleaned up the scene.

Three Alarm Fire – 23 Displaced

A spokesman for the Merrimack Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross tells me at least 23 people were displaced from the 12-unit apartment building that was destroyed by a three-alarm fire at 55 Agawam St., in Lowell.
Firefighters were called to the scene about 3 p.m., and found heavy smoke on arrival. They had to help a few folks evacuate, though there were no reported injuries.
Gilberto Rodriguez, who lives on the third floor, said he smelled smoke and then noticed smoke coming out of his sink and under a door in the apartment where he lives with Courtney Durant, who is six months pregnant.
“When I opened the door I saw the smoke so I shut it and tried to get her ready,” Rodriguez said of Durant. “By the time we came out the whole thing was just covered in smoke.
Rodriguez rang buzzers throughout the building to alert other residents.
Before long, there was heavy flame and thick black smoke from the blaze that caused about half the building’s roof to collapse.

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Photographs are by Bob Whitaker, one of our professionals here.
Another resident, Migdalia Concepcion, 52, who told me she already has cancer and diabetes, had to flee with her 15-year-old and 26-year-old sons. The younger boy was wearing shorts and no shoes.
“If I had been sleeping I would have died in there,” she said.
Concepcion said she grabbed her 49-year-old neighbor, who has asthma, and helped her get out of the building.
“She was all out of breath,” Concepcion said. “She was on the floor. We dragged her out.”

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Firefighters said most of the building’s contents were probably destroyed. There were no reported injuries. At least two cats and two parakeets were also rescued from the flames and smoke.
No immediate word on a cause or whether the blaze is suspicious.
To see for yourself, here is an overview of the building. The third transition shows a firefighter carrying a rescued cat out of the building.
Rodriguez and Concepcion both said they weren’t sure where they’d stay tonight, but the Merrimack Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross was on hand to help all 23 residents with housing, clothing, and any other needs right down to mental health support if the stress gets to them, according to spokesman Cindy Quinn.

And here is Lt. Michael Silva discussing the fire.

And resident Migdalia Concepcion doing the same.