Mayor Ted Bettencourt is asking residents for their full cooperation and assistance with the city's efforts to respond to the blizzard bearing down on Peabody.
There is no school today and there is a parking ban going into effect this morning.
"After 8 a.m., and for the duration of the weather emergency, cars may not be parked on public roadways. Any cars parked on a public roadway are subject to towing," reads a press release from Bettencourt's office.
"The purpose of the parking ban is to allow city departments to efficiently and effectively clear the roadways to their proper widths and conditions, which is critical for the safe passage of public safety vehicles and other traffic," the statement says.
Fire Chief Steven Pasdon said this storm will be a great test of the new parking ordinance, noting his concern all along of getting already narrow streets or other congested areas clear for emergency vehicles.
"They have to get those cars out of the road," he said, adding that he hopes and expects there will be early enforcement on any violations of the ban once the snow starts in earnest.
Police Chief Robert Champagne says all officers will be on call once the blizzard starts in earnest and extra shifts will be added for medical responses or other emergencies, at the dispatch center and elsewhere as needed.
Champagne said he spent all morning Thursday in meetings with staff and city department heads as they formed emergency plans of action if needed.
"We're kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature now...and Channel 6," he said.
Updates on the storm
There are 14 blue lights at key intersections throughout the city and those lights will start flashing at 8 a.m. to alert residents to the ban, as well as to tune to 1640 AM for more details.
Champagne said Thursday afternoon that the radio system was back up and working properly. He said there was a bug in the system and the radio antenna at the station was also replaced because it may have been struck by lightning several months ago.
Bettencourt says all further updates from the city will be broadcast on 1640 AM, along with WBZ 1030 AM and North Shore 104.9 FM and Peabody Access TV Channel 9. The city has set up an emergency information line at 978-538-5758, which will provide recorded updates throughout the weekend.
The public should also watch for notices via Nixle alerts from the Peabody Police Department and check the department's Facebook and Twitter accounts along with the city's website. The Peabody Public Schools ConnectED system may also release further updates.
Bettencourt reminds residents that sidewalks in front of their homes need to be cleared per city ordinance.
"We would ask that residents and businesses assist the cleanup effort by clearing their sidewalks if they are able and it is safe to do so. Please do not place snow from sidewalks into the roadway," he said.
Bettencourt says he is prepared to open a “warming station” at the Torigian Center for any residents in temporary need of heat or electricity. Residents should call the business line (978-538-6385) at the police station first so arrangements can be made to have the center opened.
He said it will not serve as an overnight shelter, however; residents in need of longer-term shelter should contact the American Red Cross about a regional shelter.
Report all power outages or downed power lines sto the Peabody Municipal Light Plant at 978-531-5975.
"Please remember that downed power lines may be live, so stay away from them," Bettencourt said.