Police officials in both Newbury and Newburyport were expected to release a Code Red emergency telephone call alerting Plum Island residents that Plum Island Turnpike may be flooded during last night’s high tide, essentially stranding them on the barrier island for several hours. Police officials were also predicting that Plum Island Boulevard would be closed during periods of last night’s high tide.
Newburyport Department of Public Service workers were on call in case the high tide caused enough flooding to compromise the island’s sewer and water services. Should a large-enough breach occur, the DPS was prepared to shut off service to affected sections of the island to prevent a massive failure of the system, according to Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday.
Newbury selectmen Chairman Joe Story said he placed a call to Gov. Deval Patrick’s office yesterday asking the state for immediate help, but was told there was very little, if anything, officials there could do.
During yesterday’s meetings, exasperated Plum Island homeowners implored selectmen to take immediate action to save their properties, including placing large boulders by the threatened properties or at the very least deploying coir bags. Such a measure was recently done farther north in the Newburyport section of Plum Island and has been deemed successful by officials there.
Residents talked about the importance of not only protecting the homes, but protecting the island’s infrastructure and tax base.
“We have a catastrophic event under way; we need to defend what we have and we need the town to step up and take the lead,” said Annapolis Way resident Bob Connors, who was holding back tears at one point during the first meeting yesterday.
As recently as October, state and local officials expressed confidence that Annapolis Way homes were safer thanks to recent beach replenishment efforts.