While Harvard students took advantage of the big blizzard to relax and frolic in the snow, workers at the Governor's Disaster Center were on their third day without sleep as they scrambled to coordinate the transportation of essential emergency and medical personnel.
Because so many private autos were operating this morning in violation of the ban imposed by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, the Disaster Center faced bottlenecks that threatened rescue and digout operations.
To deter a mounting stream of commercial vehicles and sightseers heading toward the hardest hit areas. Dukakis ordered a crackdown on unauthorized vehicles, including penalties of up to $500 or a year in jail.
The Cambridge Police Department even banned cross-country skiing on city streets and sidewalks yesterday morning. Police said that skiers were interfering with ambulances and snowplows. The ban will stay in effect until the snow emergency is over.
The governor, dressed for the weather in a blue and red ski parka, galoshes and ski mittens, attracted little attention when he strode into the hectic Disaster Center.
The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) officials assembled there spent most of their time patiently dissuading everyone from city mayors to cab company presidents from putting more cars on the snow-strewn streets.
Ironically, the Disaster Center's biggest headaches came from other public officials who either misunderstood or disagreed with the extent of the emergency ban.
The chief of police in suburban Lynn became confused when, after the town's mayor announced that Lynn's streets were open for regular business, the governor's office called with an order instructing the police to strictly enforce the state of emergency until told otherwise by Dukakis.
The opposite happened in Framingham. After the state of emergency was lifted this afternoon, the town's board of selectmen voted to maintain a ban on travel and the governor reversed his order.
The toughest decisions for the governor's staff were those that touched the lives of families. One woman's father died in bed yesterday, but she was unable to arrange immediately for the removal of his body. The Disaster Center kept in touch until a free ambulance could be assigned.
Another woman, separated since Monday from her three children, called several times begging permission to drive in on Route 93 from New Hampshire. Her request was denied.
At one point yesterday afternoon, the Disaster Center was so besieged with calls that Michael A. Goldman, director of public information for the MDC, told his and the governor's staff to put every telephone line on hold and keep quiet.
Repairmen have not yet been able to direct their dogsleds to The Crimson. We thank Harbus News for letting us use its typesetting equipment.
The University police have asked students not to ski on public roads between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. because of the danger of interfering with snow removal.
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