Weekend flash floods in East Somerville will cost the city millions in damages but it could have been worse - one Somerville woman almost lost her life as she was trapped in 18-foot waters under the Assembly Square Bridge.
Now, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone is wondering if it all could have been avoided. Curtatone said this week that city officials are looking into issues at the Amelia Earhart dam on the Mystic River.
"We heard that the flood gates may not have been opened, may not have been opened timely enough and we still need to understand what that would mean," Curtatone said to the television station WBZ.
City officials will meet with state agencies to discuss if a Department of Conservation and Recreation employee waited too long to open the flood gates at the dam.
Almost four inches of rain fell in less than 90 minutes Saturday, with the most serious flooding around East Somerville and Union Square.
Christine Broderick was trapped in the Assembly Square Bridge when the floods hit. A 911 operator told her to paddle out but Broderick, who said she can't swim, was carried back inside the tunnel by a strong current.
In the pitch-black tunnel, as the waters continued to rise, Broderick started to scream for help.
"All I could think was, 'I'm going to die right around the corner from my house," Broderick said.
Bystanders heard the calls and stopped off-duty Somerville fire fighter Mike Marino. Marino, a former U.S. Navy rescue diver, rushed under the tunnel to save Broderick without hesitation, witnesses said.
Marino used a white lifesaver doughnut attached to a rope to pull Broderick to safety, she said.
"I told the mayor that Mike Marino deserves a medal," Broderick said. "He's more of a hero because he was off-duty, it wasn't his job to save me, he didn't have to do it but he risked his safety for a stranger. One more minute and I would have been dead, because I could not have kept swimming any longer."
A human cost was avoided but the floods caused more than $1 million in damages to city buildings and equipment, Curtatone said.
The city's police headquarters remains closed and will not reopen until at least Friday after 26 police vehicles were damaged, at least three beyond repair.
The Winter Hill Community School, Capuano Early Childhood Education Center and Cummings School suffered damage, with the Capuano "taking the heaviest hit," according to Superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi.
The fire department lost 100 of their 500 fire suits to the floods and about 50 pairs of leather boots.