NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 4, 2013

Offering a helping hand

PI Beachcoma holding fundraiser for homeowners tomorrow

By Dave Rogers
Staff writer

---- — PLUM ISLAND — In the hours and days following the near loss of four Annapolis Way houses after last week’s surprisingly powerful nor’easter washed away much of the sand separating their homes from the ocean, residents of this barrier island have come together to organize a fundraiser for those affected.

Money raised during tomorrow’s 12-hour event at PI Beachcoma will help homeowners who are spending thousands of dollars in sandbags and other methods to keep their property intact. It is estimated the coir sand bags, which resemble long tubes, being placed between the homes and the ocean is expected to cost between $120,000 and $140,000, an expense to be borne by the property owners.

Twenty percent of all sales during the event, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., will be placed into the Plum Island Beach Restoration Fund, an account opened by PI Beachcoma owner and event organizer Gregg Pugh.

“I was looking to see if I can offset some of the costs,” Pugh said.

In the short time since the fundraiser was announced, donations have been pouring in. Not only have musicians agreed to play the fundraiser, but someone has already donated four New England Patriots playoff tickets to be auctioned off during the event, Pugh said.

“The outpouring of support has been unbelievable,” Pugh said.

Pugh said he was moved by the sight of the endangered homes and as a longtime Plum Island resident and business owner felt his involvement was the least he could do.

“If I was the homeowners, I’d want to throw up. It makes you sick. I put myself in their shoes and I wouldn’t want to be there. It’s just disturbing to see how much they lost in a matter of 12 hours,” Pugh said.

Newbury Selectman Geoffrey Walker said he was extremely pleased to learn that Pugh had organized the fundraiser. Not only does it show how people are stepping up to help those affected by the community, but it addresses the fact that Plum Islanders are aware that what affects Annapolis Way residents affects all who live on the island.

“Everyone is trying to work toward a common goal,” Walker said.

Last week, Walker praised homeowners for their efforts, saying they were not only helping preserve their homes but many nearby houses. Walker said that should frontal dunes along the endangered areas become breached, dozens of surrounding homes could also be in jeopardy.

Those who can’t make it to Saturday’s fundraiser can donate directly to the Plum Island Beach Restoration Fund at the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, 63 State St., Newburyport. PI Beachcoma is located at 23 Plum Island Blvd.

Visit PI Beachcoma on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pibeachcoma to learn more about Saturday’s fundraiser.