NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Breaking News

Local News

March 11, 2013

Plum Island reels from storm's devastation, assess damage

PI seeks help to save tattered shoreline

PLUM ISLAND — It’s been nearly a half century since Plum Island’s vulnerable beachfront has seen such widespread destruction.

The storm-charged waves that struck the coast Thursday and lingered through the weekend left three homes demolished. According to Newbury town officials, three more sustained “substantial” structural damage, and in all, 14 are uninhabitable, at least for the short term.

The focal point of the storm’s damage is along a two-thirds-mile stretch of dunes that runs south from the Beach Center, along Annapolis Way and Fordham Way. In total, one-third of the beachfront homes along that stretch have either been destroyed, damaged or lost their occupancy permit.

As the storm surge has gradually lifted, officials and residents are seeing a beach that is dramatically changed.

“It’s a real wasteland,” said Newbury Selectman Geoff Walker, referring to the Annapolis Way/Fordham Way beach. “For our town, it’s devastating.”

What just a few years ago was a comfortably wide beach is now a narrow strip, accessible only around low tide. At high tide, the ocean laps up against steep, crumbling sand dunes, on top of which sit about three dozen homes. Some are precariously near the edge, others are already jutting over it.

Annapolis Way has taken the worst pounding. Of the nine homes on the ocean side of the road, three were destroyed by the storm.

“We don’t have any beach anymore from Bennett Hill to blue,” Walker said, referring to landmarks at either end of the Annapolis Way/Fordham Way stretch.

“This is historical,” said longtime Plum Islander Ron Barrett. “We haven’t seen something like this since the early 1970s.”

Yesterday, state Sen. Bruce Tarr, state Rep. Lenny Mirra and Selectman Joe Story sent a letter top Gov. Deval Patrick, asking for “assistance and expertise of state government to help protect those homes that are still in immediate jeopardy and will likely remain in such jeopardy for the next several days.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch
Special Features