, Newburyport, MA


March 1, 2013

The ebb and flow of Plum Island


Nature, of course, knows no limits. Our resistance to its attacks is to do what can be done by government and hope for the best. Property owners put their money down on that, and cities and towns do what they can to help, but it’s an uncertain grind.

What’s going on now is the third major contest with nature at Plum Island of my lifetime.

The difference has been the upscaling of the island’s residences. Dwellings up to and even beyond World War II were modest. Most no longer are.

Newburyport, Newbury and Salisbury have benefitted by increased tax revenues as property values have increased. Plum Islanders now have city water, so concerns regarding them are no longer just those of residents.

This season’s storms have shaken us. All things considered, they won’t be the last. Meanwhile, the south jetty is in the process of repair, but the north jetty isn’t. That will change something, but we won’t know what for some time.

That takes a lot of grit along with the expense for those most at risk. It always has been, but more is at stake this time than it was a half century ago.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is

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