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Ex-Valley resident Andrea Burns ‘living on the edge’

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO<br/>Former Easthampton City Councilor Andrea Burns said it is eerie in Brookline Friday.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
    Former Easthampton City Councilor Andrea Burns said it is eerie in Brookline Friday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • <b>EDITORS: Updates previously posted timeline</b> Map of Boston area, with timeline of events in the pursuit of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects. MCT 2013<p><br/><br/>With BOSTONMARATHON,  by MCT<p>

    EDITORS: Updates previously posted timeline Map of Boston area, with timeline of events in the pursuit of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects. MCT 2013



    With BOSTONMARATHON, by MCT

    Purchase photo reprints »

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO<br/>Former Easthampton City Councilor Andrea Burns said it is eerie in Brookline Friday.
  • <b>EDITORS: Updates previously posted timeline</b> Map of Boston area, with timeline of events in the pursuit of the two Boston Marathon bombing suspects. MCT 2013<p><br/><br/>With BOSTONMARATHON,  by MCT<p>

Andrea Burns, the former Easthampton city councilor who now works as a regional planner in the Boston Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, said the streets were so empty it was “eerie” in the Boston metro area Friday.

“It’s very strange,” Burns said in a telephone interview around 3 p.m. Friday from her mother’s home in Brookline, one of the cities where people have been asked to stay inside.

It feels, she said, like a major snowstorm without the snow, although there is the added element of fear. The appearance of President Barack Obama Thursday provided a bit of inspiration.

“When he came yesterday and we had that beautiful interfaith service, I feel like we could all breath out a little,” Burns said. “There was a sense that somehow there was a positive uplifting. After four days of living on edge, it was a very good time for him to come. It was needed.”

Meanwhile, Friday’s turn of events is surreal. “All the businesses are closed,” she said. “No one is on the streets.”

But it hasn’t been this quiet for Burns throughout the Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath. On Monday, police blew up an unexploded bomb outside her brother’s home. “There was a closed detonation right outside his apartment,” she said. “I was very nervous when I found out that a bomb was so close to where my brother lives. I think personally I haven’t been terribly afraid, though it has been very stressful.”

And, as the regional planner for the office of emergency management, Burns has been involved in the response to the attack. She helped set up a shelter Monday with the Red Cross and Salvation Army to provide shelter to people who could not get out of the city or return home. She was also in meetings in the days following the bombing to decide how to clean up Copley Square and other areas reached by the tragedy and helped make preparations for Obama’s arrival Thursday.

Burns said she has been impressed by how well different organizations have been working together: SWAT, police, firefighters, FBI, Homeland Security, the mayor’s office and service organizations. She added that in the last few days the feeling of cooperation in Boston has been “palpable.”

“It’s incredibly surreal. Everyone is talking about it, everyone is — it’s all around you,” Burns said. “It feels like everyone is in it together. We’ve all been through such a scary time. There is a sense of solidarity.”

Although Burns has been involved with the response effort through the emergency preparedness office, today she and just about everyone else in her office were told City Hall would not be open and that they should stay home.

“If I’m needed for anything else, I’m ready in a heartbeat,” she said.

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