High tides cause flooding in Rockport, Scituate, Marshfield, and other coastal communities


Mar 8, 2013

MARSHFIELD — Chris Lynch stood in his Plymouth Avenue driveway here today, stunned that his home, which is four blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, could be surrounded by seawater.

“I’ve never seen it this high, ever,” said Lynch, who grew up in Scituate but has lived in Marshfield for the past seven years.

Lynch, who works as an electrical contractor in Scituate, shook his head as he looked at the inches-deep, slushy accumulation covering his front yard in the 300 block of Plymouth Avenue.

“I’m not sure if the beaches are eroding more or the tides are getting worse. It came right up to the driveway this time, near the front of the tires,’’ said Lynch. “This isn’t rain or snow water, this is saltwater.’’


Marshfield and neighboring Scituate are just two of several coastal communities north and south of Boston that were hammered by Friday morning’s high tide.

On Plum Island, officials said a dozen homes were placed in jeopardy by the storm-whipped tide.

In Scituate, Jim Farran, 80, a retired plumber, lost his car, refrigerator and heating system in last month’s blizzard, after three feet of water flooded his basement and driveway on Oceanside Drive, just north of 10th Avenue.

“This time we prepared ourselves,” he said. “Where the water came in before, we built up a barricade, on the back side, but Mother Nature decided to fool us, and this time she came from the ocean side.” Still, it wasn’t as bad as the February blizzard, he said.

From Farran’s two-story house as far as the eye could see, Oceanside Drive was under water, the wind rippling the surface as two ducks waded down the street. Nearby the door of a wooden shed lay twisted and the shed itself had been lifted from its foundation and deposited several feet away, bent out of shape.

Town officials said residents in flooded neighborhoods self-evacuated and no one had to be rescued by the Scituate fire department.

Also, in contrast to the blizzard, at most 10 people sought went to the town shelter, down from more than 350 who used town facilities in the last storm. The key difference, officials said, was that the power stayed on during this week’s turbulence.

In Pembroke, reports of downed trees and wires ramped up as the snow has intensified. Fire Chief Jim Neenan said the department had received 10 calls between 9 and 11 a.m.

“Until this ends, we’ll stay pretty busy,” Neenan said.

In Plymouth, like so many other coastal communities, parts of the shoreline and coastal bluffs saw major erosion from this morning’s high tide, including the White Horse and Long Beach areas.

“We likely have severe erosion on Cedar Hill area along coastal part of town,” Plymouth Emergency Management Director Aaron Wallace said.

The heavy, wet snow has contributed to power outages and difficult road conditions, though the town has been working with NStar and the National Guard to tackle problems as they come, Wallace said.

On the North Shore, a quarter-mile stretch of beachside road has buckled and washed out in Rockport, prompting town officials to shut it down, Rockport police said.

The sand once supporting the span of Penzance Road abutting the oceanfront was washed out by the tide this morning, crippling and crumpling the pavement, Rockport Police Patrolman Bill Budrow said.

The area commonly floods during storms, requiring public works crews to bulldoze sand to clear the roadway.

“This time, it’s going to need a little more work,” Budrow said.

On Cape Cod, the staircase linking visitors of the Marconi and Nauset Light beaches to the sea — already damaged by February’s blizzard—was washed away by today’s storm, according to George Price, superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet.

Price noted that while this storm has brought on a lot of erosion caused by the excessive winds and multiple high tides, the hardest part is that this is just one in a series of storms that have impacted the national seashore this winter, making it difficult to assess the damage to the area.

Still, that hasn’t changed the minds of the curious onlookers trying to get a glimpse of Mother Nature at work.

“There are a number of places where we’ve had to limit access,” Price said. “We’re concerned about slumping or landslides … but sturdy Cape Codders take these storms in strides.”

Back in Marshfield, Tim Mannix managed to both shrug off the storm and to light a cigarette despite the gusting winds and swirling snow.

Mannix, a fisherman, said the storm ranked maybe third behind the Blizzard of ’78 and the No-Name Storm of 1991. He has lived here for 50 years, and evacuated once, for the No-Name storm.

“Mom’s upstairs right now, 86 years old,’’ Mannix said. “It’s just another storm.”

The Mannix family home, at Ocean Street and Dyke Road in Marshfield, lost sliders on one side of the house last month. This storm destroyed the sliders on the other half.

“We already had the damage from the blizzard, so it’s a good thing I didn’t start repairing yet,” said Mannix, 57.



Salisbury Beach weathers high tides, flooding

Mar 8, 2013


Salisbury — High-tide washed over onto beach and marsh-side roadways this morning, but many in town are counting themselves lucky compared to Plum Island, where a home was lost to the sea.

According to Salisbury Emergency Management Direcor Bob Cook, as of about 10:30 this morning, he hadn't heard that the town incurred any structural damage, although Mother Nature took her pound of flesh from Salisbury's coast.

"There was a lot of erosion at the beach," Cook said. "People really need to stay off the beach and what's left of the dunes. It's just too unsafe;  the dunes are very, very dangerous."
Police blocked off Broadway, stopping storm watchers from getting too close to the pounding waves at about 8 a.m. But even before the tide peaked at 8:37 a.m. North End Boulevard, Central Avenue and Ocean Front South felt the brunt of this morning's much-feared high tide. By 6:58 a.m. waves were washing over dunes, bringing sea water streaming between homes and onto North End Boulevard in the area of the mid-two hundred block. And shortly after, waves crashed over the snow fencing, and sweeping across  Ocean Front South.

The boulevard showed signs of the strength of the ocean, for pieces of snow fencing and of boardwalks were scattered along the road, deposited there by waves gone wild.

Broadway and Driftway, two areas where wash-overs often occur, were saved by preventative action taken by Public Works officials yesterday. Nine huge truckloads of beach sand were purchased by the town, and 8-foot tall berms built at the head of both roads before last night's high tide, and then rebuilt again for today after Thursday night's tides whittled them down. This morning, plows reinforced the berms with snow to hold the sand in place against the wind and ocean.

Emergency official, with the help of the Army National Gurard, blocked off Beach Road by 8:30 at  the entrance to Salisbury Beach State Reservation, when the tide-filled salt marsh overflowed its banks, covering the road to a level so deep it was considered hazardous to travel.

Orange cones and a Salisbury police van cordoned off the east lane of a portion of Ferry Road, when high seas filled the wetlands there as well.

About an hour after peak high tide, on the west, or marsh side, of North End Boulevard the Black Water River overtook the sand-bag berms there, filling yards of the streets there.

The hope is that once the snow stops and catch basins can been cleared of snow, the sea water will stop pooling on pavement, draining away so clean up can begin.

According to Cook, although tonight's high tide will also be of serious nature, "the worst is over for Salisbury."

Cook said by noon he will remove the mandatory evacuation order for portions of the beach.



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