, Newburyport, MA

October 31, 2012

Salisbury, Seabrook seashore weather Sandy

Officials say communities 'lucky' damage wasn't worse

By Angeljean Chiaramida STAFF WRITER
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Despite some minimal damage, officials in Salisbury and Seabrook are breathing a sigh of relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“You can see where Mother Nature visited,” Seabrook Public Works Manager John Starkey said. “The beach is a little steeper that it used to be, pretty much all over. But over the winter, the sand will probably come back. It could have been worse. It could have been much, much worse.”

In Salisbury, Public Works Director Don Levesque relayed the same message. Given what other seacoast communities in Massachusetts, as well as in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, are dealing with, Salisbury was fortunate.

Levesque said there was some flooding during the two high tides on Monday in the usual trouble spots — on Beach Road by the road to Salisbury Beach State Reservation and by the salt marsh on North End Boulevard, on Lewis, Lawrence, 11th and 12th streets. There also was a wash-over in the beach center on Broadway.

“I’ve seen it worse,” Levesque said. “All in all, in my opinion, it wasn’t too bad. We were lucky.”

Both towns have seen severe damage during past storms, like last year’s October snowstorm and a couple of wild spring Nor’easters that have hammered coastlines and flooded basements, businesses and roadways.

Past storms have hit Salisbury Beach hard, causing homeowners especially at the south end of the beach to fear their properties would be swept into the sea. But this time, beachfront home owner Don Egan said the shore was more fortunate.

“There was a lot of wind and stuff blowing around and some erosion,” said Egan, who watched the outlying winds of Hurricane Sandy lash the coastline in front of his Atlantic Avenue home. “But it wasn’t too bad.”

Levesque said the sand lost at Salisbury Beach probably will make its way back up the shore if there’s a lull in the weather. The big worry would be another ocean storm coming soon, he said.

“If we get another big storm, it won’t give the beach time to replenish itself,” Levesque said.

Fire officials in both communities said there were no major fires or accidents, but their departments were kept busy Monday responding to wind-related damage. Falling tree limbs brought down electrical wires that caused outages, sparking wires and blocked roadways. In Salisbury, the fire department responded to two fallen trees, one of which crushed a trailer on Beach Road and the other a garage in the Salisbury Plains.

“But we had no extensive flooding that I know of,” Town Manager Neil Harrington said yesterday. “No businesses flooded out on Bridge Road. The Town Creek tide gate held and we’ll be starting the work to (permanently replace it) in mid-November.”

As of mid-afternoon yesterday, both towns still had patches of power outages. In Salisbury, about 625 were without electricity, mostly at the beach, according to National Grid’s outage map. Harrington said National Grid placed one of its representatives in Salisbury, who attended all emergency meetings. The town was also able to contact the company as soon as things happened, which Harrington believes helped prevent problems from arising as they had in previous storms.

In Seabrook, Unitil’s outage map as of 1 p.m. yesterday indicated there were 114 residences without electricity, including the home of fire Chief Everett Strangman. But the Route 1 retail district maintained its power, unlike during last year’s October blizzard that shut down power to most stores and the busy roadway’s traffic signals, causing dangerous driving conditions.

To help residents clean up from the storm, the Salisbury DPW is extending the hours of its Drop-Off Recycling Center for a few days. The center on Old County Road, which is usually open on Saturdays only, will accept yard waste such as leaves, brush and limbs 4 inches in diameter or smaller tomorrow through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The extra collection hours are for this week only.

In Seabrook, the transfer station is open daily so residents can drop off storm debris.