HULL, Mass. — National Guard Soldiers from the 181st and 379th Engineering Companies took to the streets unearthing cars, homes, and fire hydrants from still-growing snow banks throughout February 10 and 11. The unprecedented amount of snow had overwhelmed local plow contractors, city workers and emergency services by late February 9th, causing Gov. Charlie Baker to activate over 300 Soldiers and Airmen throughout the Commonwealth, and bringing the engineers to the aid of Hull, Mass.
“We have been here since 7:00 p.m. last night,” said Pfc. Christopher Fitzsimmons of the 379th. “We’re working several teams— four hours on, four hours off— to keep all our front end loaders clearing snow.”
The snow clearing work was absolutely essential, according to Chief Chris Russo of the Hull Fire Department, who headed the local collaboration between Guard and civilian emergency workers. Soldiers like Fitzsimmons worked the multi-ton buckets of the Guard front end loaders nonstop throughout the night to clear many unpassable streets in Hull. They also cleared a path up to Hull High School, which had been closed all week, school administrators noted.
“People have been really nice; clapping, waving, offering to buy us coffee every five minutes,” said Fitzsimmons about the citizens of Hull. It was an understandable response considering many of them had been stranded in their homes for days due to the weather.
Pfc. Charles Roaf and Sgt. Miguel Familia received the same warm reception as they toiled with hand shovels to clear fire hydrants buried underneath six-foot drifts along miles of road. Mary-Kate Roche, a smiling young Girl Scout adorned with sash, came rushing out with her mother, Monique, to give Roaf and Familia a stack of Girl Scout cookie boxes in thanks.
The skills that these Soldiers have gained through countless trainings and deployments were put to efficient use while working with the Hull Fire and Police Departments to help clear out these kind people, and as Fitzsimmons put it, “[We will] be out here until the job is done. I’m glad to do it.”
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