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

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
Replies (31-40):
ibebreezy
by Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 11:54 AM

i'm just over the nh border.

As the crow flies i'm an 1/8 of a mile inland and about 100yds from the marsh. My backyard will flood but not my street thank god. The land changes on the water. as far away as I am from the water my 200yo house was originally a fishing shack... it might be again someday. 

We used to live right on the marsh/beach but once we had to rescue my sister out of her house in boat during that Mother day storm about 6 yrs back (hilarious story) that was it. lol.

Quoting kam013:


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. 


           

ibebreezy
by Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

The other half of Plum Island is a nature preserve. When the houses were built they were far away from the water, and the beach is public but most tourists stick to the main state beach.

Quoting NWP:

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.


           

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Mar. 11, 2013 at 12:03 PM

True. I am grateful that they only developed half the island or the financial damage would have been much greater.

This problem is only going to get worse so now is a good time to address the possibility of these types of building restrictions instead of replacing the homes.

Quoting ibebreezy:

The other half of Plum Island is a nature preserve. When the houses were built they were far away from the water, and the beach is public but most tourists stick to the main state beach.

Quoting NWP:

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.



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SWasson
by Bronze Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 12:58 PM

After years of hearing news of devastation in shore communities after this or that storm, I have no interest in owning shore property.

stormcris
by Christy on Mar. 11, 2013 at 1:33 PM

They say the entire eastern shore line is threatened to be lost.

CorpCityGrl
by Bronze Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 1:37 PM

No, we wouldn't buy or build on a beach but we would live close to the water.

I live in NY and we saw the devastation that Sandy brought on all the beachfront communities here and it's terrible.  We love the water but the cost of living that close to it and the possibility of having to re-build after a storm are too daunting. 

survivorinohio
by René on Mar. 11, 2013 at 2:18 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting stormcris:

They say the entire eastern shore line is threatened to be lost.

I have driven the shoreline all the way from florida through the outerbanks and we cut over through Wash.  That is a lot of shoreline/island beauty.  I would seriously mourn its 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


Peanutx3
by Ruby Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 2:24 PM

I live far enough from the shoreline but I do have friends who this last winter lost a portion of their land to a storm. 

survivorinohio
by René on Mar. 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM

A good video is available here


After Sandy: Climate and Our Coastal Future

Date: November 19, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Rotunda, Low Memorial Library

To assist in the aid of the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, please visit http://news.columbia.edu/home/2946.

 

                                                                                                                                                            

A University forum featuring faculty researchers from Columbia's Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, NASA-Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Mailman School of Public Health, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of International and Public Affairs.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Columbia faculty from schools, institutes and centers from across the university have provided a key source of insight to the media, general public and policy-makers about the related issues of climate change and sustainable development in the face of rising sea levels around the globe.  This university-wide conversation, co-sponsored by The Earth Institute, Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, and World Leaders Forum, brings together just a few of the many Columbia researchers whose interdisciplinary work is adding to our understanding of the risks facing coastal communities, including New York City and its suburbs. 

ChancesMommy07
by Silver Member on Mar. 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM
You've been to the wrong kind of lakes, lol. Our ideal vacation is a cabin in the mountains. We fish, hike, trail ride, etc. I don't like the sand, smell, or anything else associated with the beach!

Quoting Radarma:

 lol, that is exactly what the ONE other person I know who does not fancy a beach says.

Lakes skeeve me out...anything stagnant does. lol


Quoting ChancesMommy07:


Quoting Radarma:


 


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?


 

I do, I'm more of a mountain and lakes kind of gal.

 

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