, Newburyport, MA

February 27, 2013

Corps to blame for beach erosion

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Do you have a happy place? You know, the place you go in your mind when you want to calm yourself. I had a happy place once. I was 17 and school just let out for the summer. I was taking a dip in the ocean. It was a spectacular day. I was happy and didn’t have a care in the world. The wind changed and a cold sea breeze gave me a chill. It was time to go home. So I climbed the steps up the sand dune. At the top there was a little spot that didn’t have any eelgrass, just the right size for me to lie in the warm sand. The cold wind wasn’t able to reach the ground. It was as though Mother Nature provided me with a warm blanket so I could stay out and enjoy the beautiful day.

This was my happy place. It’s the memory I use to put myself to sleep or calm myself down when I find life too stressful. Well, that happy place is now gone. No, really, it’s gone. The ocean during the last nor’east blizzard washed it away. This isn’t a simple thing like Mother Nature or global warming. The reason there is massive erosion in front of my childhood home is man-made. The Army Corps of Engineers installed jetties at the mouth of the river. In the ’60s they extended the length by almost double so the sand that builds up in the river would be sent out to sea. The Army Corps allowed them to fall into disrepair. The massive structures are starving the coast of its down-drift sediment that should be continuously rejuvenating the beach and now is not. To add insult to injury, the government will not issue homeowners permits to take measures to save their homes at their own expense. I thought we lived in a free country, but the truth is, it’s not. The Declaration of Independence states …

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Our liberty has been stripped from us and our government has robbed the happiness that my folks have spent a lifetime pursuing. When I think of that day on the beach, all it reminds me of is how much stress my parents are enduring during what is supposed to be the best time of their retirement years.

Cheryl Comeau