NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 28, 2012

Dire straits

Severe storm leaves several PI homes at risk of collapse

(Continued)

Placing thousand-pound boulders in front of homes would not be an easy task legally, according to officials, who said the state Department of Environmental Protection would likely not allow such a maneuver over fear that it would permanently destroy large sections of beach area.

Newbury conservation agent Doug Packer said obtaining legal authority to permit hard structures such as boulders or walls along the beach would be extremely difficult.

“As far as rocks go, it’s a very hard sell, no pun intended,” Packer said.

But with a chuckle, Tarr said there was little the DEP could do to stop the town from placing the boulders in the dead of night and dealing with the legal fallout later.

On a more serious note, Tarr pushed for the idea of obtaining coir bags and placing them around the endangered homes as soon as possible.

“It’s something we can do relatively quickly,” Tarr said.

Earlier in the day, Tarr said the town would be well served to hire an engineer to look into any and all proposals to save the Annapolis Way homes and nearby homes on Southern Boulevard as well as immediately send a letter to state and federal officials imploring them to explore any options.

Residences on the Newburyport side of Plum Island appeared to have been undamaged by the storm.

In recent months, the high tide had been getting within a half-dozen feet of several houses at the easternmost end of 55th Street. But a visual inspection indicated that by mid-afternoon yesterday, at least, no damage had been done. The public parking lot at the north end of the island, however, was under 4 to 6 inches of water.

Elsewhere in Newburyport, there had been no reports of damage at mid-afternoon yesterday, Harbormaster Paul Hogg said.

“The parking lot at Cashman Park was flooded, but no report of damage along the river has been received,” he said.

Hogg noted that recreational vessels had been taken out of the Merrimack River and that commercial fishing boats had been firmly tied up at municipal facilities.

Daily News reporter Dyke Hendrickson contributed to this report.

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