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March 9, 2013

'Where's our beach? It's gone!'

Salisbury loses tremendous amount of sand; storm uncovers old buildings

SALISBURY — As the ferocious storm tide receded yesterday around noon, one by one Salisbury’s faithful trekked up Broadway to check on the beach they love so much, and their reaction was always the same: shock.

“Oh my God,” one gentleman gasped. “Where’s our beach? It’s gone!”

The sight was stark at the end of Broadway, as the beach dropped off precipitously from where it once graded gently down to the sea. Wooden pilings, buried for decades under yards of beach, now stick up like spikes feet above the sand. And a jagged, rusty metal foundation is now an exposed curiosity, surrounded by chunks of concrete and other debris.

For hours yesterday morning, thousands of huge waves pummeled Salisbury Beach like 10-ton sledgehammers, pounding dunes to nothing. The velocity of the surf, as well as its height and volume, was no match for what was left of the miles of sacrificial dunes that had already given their best to the Blizzard of 2013, only a month ago.

Thankfully, according to Salisbury’s Emergency Management Director Bob Cook, no structures were lost to the storm tides that struck Thursday and Friday. Many in town feel fortunate for that in light of the damage left behind on Plum Island, where a house was lost, and others were so undermined they’re in jeopardy.

But Cook added a warning.

“People really need to stay off the beach and what’s left of the dunes,” he said. “It’s just too unsafe; the dunes are very, very dangerous.”

Homes along Salisbury’s Atlantic Avenue have often taken a beating during storm events, when erosion threatened structures there. The series of tides did affect the area, for snow fencing installed only five days prior is gone, said resident Don Egan. But this time round, he said, other parts along Salisbury’s shore took a harder hit than the south end of the beach.

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