NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 9, 2013

Sea rise group considers damage to coast

(Continued)

Representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have launched an off-site study to determine exactly how the ocean is reacting to the shore, the river and the jetties — and what can be done.

But that analysis could take up to two years, federal spokesmen say.

While studies are under way, scores of local residents appear to be interested in discussing what can be done to react to the churning sea.

Ron Martino of Newburyport, an organizer of the new group, said that much can be learned by observing the reactions of other communities.

“We’ve had strong response, from people in Salisbury, Newburyport, Newbury and also Ipswich, Essex and Rowley,” said Martino.

Martino said that there are at least three kinds of response: defend, retreat or absorb.

“The Dutch defend, with seawalls and other tools,” he said. “Some retreat. In New York, Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo has suggested buying (damaged) houses in low-lying (storm-hit) residential areas on Long Island, paying the homeowners market price to leave, and letting the land return to its natural state.”

Martino said that those interested in “absorbing” can consider new local regulations that govern planning, zoning and criteria for construction.

He added that communities might consider overlooking their town boundaries so that coastal problems can be considered in the whole, rather than town by town.

Commenting about the nascent group of sea-rise watchers, Martino said, “We’re not late but we’re not early. Others, including a group in Portsmouth, N.H., have been talking about the rising sea in the future.

“I do think it’s useful that we begin discussing how we react to this.”

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