EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 8, 2013

Salisbury Beach weathers high tides, flooding

Staff reports
The Eagle-Tribune

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.