NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 28, 2012

Dire straits

Severe storm leaves several PI homes at risk of collapse

PLUM ISLAND — Four Annapolis Way homes were deemed uninhabitable by the Newbury building inspector yesterday after a surprisingly powerful winter storm washed away much of the sand separating the structures from the ocean.

One of the homes, located at 31 Annapolis Way, was so compromised that yellow tape was placed across the front door and its occupants and owners barred from collecting any of their belongings.

In addition to the four houses deemed uninhabitable, officials said there are four more Annapolis Way homes in danger of meeting a similar fate.

Occupants of the three other homes — 29, 35 and 37 Annapolis Way — will be allowed to pick up belongings under the supervision of town officials, according to Newbury building inspector Sam Joslin.

Yesterday afternoon, 31 Annapolis Way co-owner Steve Bresnahan was in his driveway looking at the house he could not enter.

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” Bresnahan said.

The powerful storm, which dumped several inches of rain on the region beginning Wednesday evening, caused extensive flooding, especially during yesterday morning’s high tide, and temporarily closed Plum Island Turnpike and Plum Island Boulevard.

Plum Island Center was closed to the public for most of the day and night and a police officer stationed there to keep curiosity seekers away from the affected homes and the beach itself.

During a pair of emergency meetings held at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m., Newbury selectmen met with state Sen. Bruce Tarr, who represents the town, to discuss what could be done to prepare the island for the next high tide, scheduled for roughly 11 last night. They also considered measures that could be enacted in the future to save the houses from sliding into the ocean.

In between meetings, Tarr and other officials walked along the beach assessing damage. At least two of the houses suffered significant damage as the ocean ripped open gaping holes in the structures, sucking out furniture in the process. A whipping wind and surging surf made walking in a straight line difficult and those without hats left the beach with sand in their hair.

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