NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 9, 2013

`Never, never, never should have happened'

Owner believes house collapse was preventable

PLUM ISLAND — Stephen Bandoian spent yesterday trying to figure out how his once well-protected oceanfront home on Plum Island essentially turned to rubble in a matter of months.

From Florida, where he spends much of the year, Bandoian could only rely on reports from family, friends and the media as his home at 41 Annapolis Way gave way to high seas and collapsed onto the ravaged shoreline below.

"This should have never happened — never, never never happened," he said yesterday afternoon.

A decade ago, the dune in front of Bandoian's house was so high it obscured his view of the ocean, he said.

"If you stood on the deck, you would see the ocean on the horizon, but couldn't see the beach," he said. "It was above the 100-year water mark. It was high, high up on the dune.

"... Something changed there. There's a reason that the dune stopped building out and started being chewed back in."

Bandoian said his house made it through last year undamaged. But he began fearing the worst in December, after his repeated attempts to gain permission to repair the recently exposed seawall in front of his house remained stalled. For years, the seawall had been buried deep beneath the dunes, only to resurface with the worsening erosion.

With the seawall compromised, this season's volatile storms dealt successive blows — damaging, then destroying his deck before the next hit undermined his house a bit.

Yesterday, the house simply gave way. Today, wrecking crews will tear it down to prevent it from washing out to sea and its debris from damaging other homes.

A frustrated Bandoian said it's unfortunate he was prevented from doing what he and his engineers felt was necessary to protect his house.

"I was told by engineers that if the seawall was repaired properly and the home was properly armored, then it would be fine," he said. "That's all I have to go on."

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