EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


March 7, 2013

Bracing for the worst

Officials expecting most severe coastal damage this season from storm


As of last night, Newbury officials had not ordered an evacuation for Plum Island residents, Selectmen Joe Story said. But officials were prepared to enact the measure if the situation warranted it via a Code Red-type emergency telephone alert.

According to Newbury conservation agent Doug Packer, town officials and Plum Island property owners have been on high alert since before Hurricane Sandy hit, and are diligently working to protect their beachfront, which has suffered so severely in recent years.

Packer said the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Severe Weather Emergency Declaration is still in effect, which has allowed special measures to be taken along the shoreline. The town is working with homeowners to protect properties exposed to the wind, waves, rain and snow, he said.

Yesterday, workers from NETCO Construction Project Managers were on Plum Island installing long coir bags to act as buffers for raging seas. Town officials also will be at a command post at the shore monitoring and responding to whatever comes over the next couple days.

Packer said the longer this storm takes in arriving, the higher the tides will grow, as the winds push ocean waters into shore. That’s of special concern to Packer, who said the tides were already high yesterday.

“What we’re hearing is that Plum Island should add at least 2 feet to whatever you hear tides could be,” he said.

Packer’s comment about the impact of this storm was echoed by Surf Forecasting for northernsurfer.com, an online service advising surfers of conditions.

A number of weather factors, including the slow-moving nature of the storm and its confluence with other emerging weather events, could conspire to drive a lot of water toward the coast, sending penetrating waves onto shores at high tides into Saturday.

Given such reports, Newbury resident and surfer Michael Morris believes the region hasn’t “seen a storm of this duration and intensity for some time.”

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