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Would you buy a house close to the shore? Look at what is happening to plum Island Mass.

Posted by on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:24 AM
  • 47 Replies

Plum Island reels from storm's devastation, assess damage

Help sought to save battered shoreline

PLUM ISLAND — It’s been nearly a half century since Plum Island’s vulnerable beachfront has seen such widespread destruction.

The storm-charged waves that struck the coast Thursday and lingered through the weekend left three homes demolished. According to Newbury town officials, three more sustained “substantial” structural damage, and in all, 14 are uninhabitable, at least for the short term.

The focal point of the storm’s damage is along a two-thirds-mile stretch of dunes that runs south from the Beach Center, along Annapolis Way and Fordham Way. In total, one-third of the beachfront homes along that stretch have either been destroyed, damaged or lost their occupancy permit.

As the storm surge has gradually lifted, officials and residents are seeing a beach that is dramatically changed.

“It’s a real wasteland,” said Newbury Selectman Geoff Walker, referring to the Annapolis Way/Fordham Way beach. “For our town, it’s devastating.”

What just a few years ago was a comfortably wide beach is now a narrow strip, accessible only around low tide. At high tide, the ocean laps up against steep, crumbling sand dunes, on top of which sits about three dozen homes. Some are precariously near the edge, others are already jutting over it.

Annapolis Way has taken the worst pounding. Of the nine homes on the ocean side of the road, three were destroyed by the storm.

“We don’t have any beach anymore from Bennett Hill to blue,” Walker said, referring to landmarks at either end of the Annapolis Way/Fordham Way stretch.

“This is historical,” said longtime Plum Islander Ron Barrett. “We haven’t seen something like this since the early 1970s.”

Yesterday, state Sen. Bruce Tarr, state Rep. Lenny Mirra and Selectman Joe Story sent a letter top Gov. Deval Patrick, asking for “assistance and expertise of state government to help protect those homes that are still in immediate jeopardy and will likely remain in such jeopardy for the next several days.”

Today at 11 a.m., a meeting will be held with state, local and federal officials to discuss the situation on the island. The meeting will be at Plum Island Taxpayers and Associates Hall.

Meanwhile on the island, police have shut down the beach along Annapolis Way and Fordham Way in order to keep people away from what police described as “a dangerous scene.” The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge also closed its beach yesterday.

That didn’t stop hordes of people from coming out to the beach to see for themselves. The sunny and relatively warm weekend weather saw hundreds of people trying to get a closer look. Police blocked off roads and accesses to the beach and erected signs telling people to stay off the beach, but there were some who persisted in getting through. As a result, several will be issued arrest summonses for trespassing, according to police Chief Michael Reilly.

Reilly said most people were cooperative, but in a few cases where people wouldn’t cooperate, the summons were issued.

“Our goal isn’t to take people away into custody,” he said. “No one should be out there. It just isn’t safe. It’s a dangerous scene.”

Reilly said it’s not clear how long the beach will be closed — perhaps only a couple more days or perhaps a week. It depends on how quickly the damaged homes and dunes can be assessed and made safer.

Two beachfront homes on Annapolis Way were demolished on Saturday after high seas washed the sand out from under them, causing them to fall over the edge of the dune and onto the beach. One other home was torn down a day after its foundation was compromised.

Crews were busy cutting all utility services to the affected houses, and once the early high tide receded, they moved in with heavy equipment to tear the condemned houses down.

The first to go was the Bandoian house at 41 Annapolis Way, which tipped over the dune Friday morning and was left leaning on the beach at a 45-degree angle until it was demolished by a heavy crane at 11:53 a.m. yesterday.

The Bresnahan house at 31 Annapolis Way followed shortly afterward. The house, previously deemed structurally unsafe and uninhabitable late last year, toppled off its foundation early Saturday morning.

Both buildings were unoccupied at the time they went over the edge.

The third house set to be demolished was the Nee house at 37 Annapolis Way, which had already suffered extensive damage following the Blizzard of 2013. Significant effort was put in to shore up the house after that storm, but it was all for naught after the latest storm washed all the engineering away and left the house in worse shape than before.

Throughout the morning people were seen retrieving belongings from the house and loading them into a yellow Penske truck. The house’s owner, Tom Nee, had lived on the property for 40 years prior to this storm.

Once the Nee house comes down later today, Bob Connors, who lives at 39 Annapolis Way between the ruined houses, will be left without a next-door neighbor.

“The worst part about all this is seeing your neighbors go through all this,” Connors said.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:24 AM
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Replies (1-10):
ibebreezy
by Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:29 AM

I live very near the ocean about 10 miles up the sand from Plum and we lost 1/4 of our beach over the weekend. What used to be my family favorite play beach is now just a cliff :(  Plum Island has been being reclaimed by the ocean for years and it's just a travesty.

Rubberbiscuit
by Bronze Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:29 AM

It's sad.  They were showing this on the news this morning.  They said that when these were built, they were far enough from shore that they thought they were safe from erosion. 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:32 AM
8 moms liked this

Personally I think all beach front should include a nature preserve buffer zone...to help with endangered species and to avoid disasters like these. I also believe that the beaches should be public and that private homes should sit at a required distance from this public space. It would help a lot in many ways....but townships are greedy for that beachfront property tax money and this is another area where money trumps common sense.

Mrs.Kubalabuku
by on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:34 AM

No, I wouldn't.  When I lived on the coast we were sure to get a house farther in.  And we got all the insurance we could for it.

People who buy those houses really should know what they are getting into.   You're buying a house for vanity.  You aren't buying a house that will be there a hundred or even 50 years later.  But they DO sell insurance for that, so while it is hard at the time, if they had the home properly insured they will more than likely just rebuild it...right on the new shore line!  That's right!  When I lived down there, they'd be so heartbroken about teh houses toppling over.  And then they'd build just a few yards in and repeat the cycle.

Sometimes you get a young couple talked into the home by a realtor who promises miraculous breakthroughs in engineering have solved all the problems.  Or by some miracle the houses have lasted a couple generations and people get attached.

So I feel sorry for any naive people talked into this fancy home by a realtor.  In the long run, though, I don't feel too awful for them.  It's a known risk when you buy that house.  It's no different than buying a house right a river that floods every few years, or one high up on an eroding hill.  While it lasts, it is an AWESOME place to live.  But if you know anything about erosion, flooding, or how the world works you know it isn't going to last.

survivorinohio
by René on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

So, that was a holy wall of yest huh Batman? 

Sorry I fixed it.  I have been having issues posting and replying *shrug*

I do not think so much beach should have ever been developed even though I would love to rent a beach front house for a vacation lol.  I see the attraction but as a place to live I am not so comfortable. 

I wonder if this is just the beginning though.  If many scientists are right we will see a lot of shoreline issues in yrs to come.  I wonder what impact losing shoreline will have on the country as a whole and I wonder how much we will lose in all.  Scary thoughts people :(

survivorinohio
by René on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:48 AM


Quoting ibebreezy:

I live very near the ocean about 10 miles up the sand from Plum and we lost 1/4 of our beach over the weekend. What used to be my family favorite play beach is now just a cliff :(  Plum Island has been being reclaimed by the ocean for years and it's just a travesty.

I am sorry for your loss:(

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


ChancesMommy07
by Silver Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:50 AM

No. I don't even go to the beach on vacation so I definitely wouldn't buy a house there.

kam013
by Silver Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 9:55 AM


Quoting ibebreezy:

I live very near the ocean about 10 miles up the sand from Plum and we lost 1/4 of our beach over the weekend. What used to be my family favorite play beach is now just a cliff :(  Plum Island has been being reclaimed by the ocean for years and it's just a travesty.

Your closer than I am, but I live in MA too.  What many people don't realize is that when these house were initially built there was a LOT more land/beach there.  It wasn't like they built on this tiny strip of beach. 

Yes, it is always a risk you take when you opt to build on or near the beach, but you also take that risk if you are near a river, pond, lake, basically any body of water prone to flooding.  The beach has the added issue of wind and tidal surges, but it's a risk all the same.

We lived near the water, not on, but near during Hurricane Bob.  When we bought the house we were shocked we were considered in a flood zone, it just seemed crazy based on our location.  Needless to say, during Bob we lost a good portion of our home.  So it's not just those right on the water that face risks. 

That said, I would consider buying/building NEAR the water again, but based on my financial ability to re-build should devastation happen . . . and having witnessed FIRST HAND the amazing power of storm surge,  I would not build on a beach.  

ETA:  I am basing my response on this being a year round home.  These homes on Plum Island, my understanding is many, if not all of them are seasonal properties.  I would take a seasonal home on a beach just about anywhere . . .  that is, if I could afford it. 

meriana
by Platinum Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM

No, I wouldn't.  There is no accounting for what storms and the ocean will or can do. It's really sad when people lose those homes but what amazes me is that so many rebuild in the same locations.  Same with hillsides. There have been many luxery homes lost over the years to hillsides caving in Ca. but they just rebuild on that same hillside. The views are incredble but really? Your house goes down the hill and you rebuild on the same hillside or edge of the cliff....really? 

 

Radarma
by "OneDar" on Mar. 11, 2013 at 10:10 AM

 

Quoting ChancesMommy07:

No. I don't even go to the beach on vacation so I definitely wouldn't buy a house there.

 You dislike a beach?

 

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