Salisbury Public Works Director Donald Levesque said the reason such a small storm brought problems is because the substantial dunes that used to line that area were decimated during the March 8 storm tides.
Even when the dunes were there, during exceptionally high tides or strong coastal storms, ocean waves have historically invaded Salisbury Beach Center. But Tuesday’s storm was forecast to offer either driving winds or storm surges, yet without its dunes, Beach Center property, the town’s underground water and sewer lines and its pavement remain vulnerable.
The result of the ocean’s action during that storm obliterated most of the protective dunes along that front of the Beach Center, but it also sucked out countless tons of sand from the beach itself and carved out the dunes farther north along the beach. Although the sea has returned some of the sand to the lower beach, much of it washed south, making a huge sandbar at the Merrimack River’s north jetty. Some have estimated there could be as much as 500,000 cubic yards of sand there.
Costello said DCR’s action plan also includes restoring the dune system at the northern end of the beach that endured dune damage after the Feb. 8 blizzard and subsequent storms, concluding with the big one of March 8. Many homes that abut the dunes were threatened by the erosion, he said.
Some homeowners moved to help themselves, obtaining 14 emergency certificates, and paying thousands of dollars of their own money to shore up the dunes on their property. Costello said he’s sure they’ll be pleased to see DCR hopes to support those efforts by restoring the abutting dunes on state property.