EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 10, 2013

Wild blizzard pins us down at home -- or forces us out

SALISBURY — One minute they were videotaping the dark gray, ominous surf rushing under their neighbor’s house on North End Boulevard at Salisbury Beach and the next moment, Edward Bemis and his wife, Nancy, were caught in a monster wave that crashed through their sliding glass door.

The powerful surge around high tide swept all of the couple’s belongings up in a torrent to the back of the apartment.

The tidal wave pinned Nancy Bemis under the sliding glass door and 2 1/2 feet of water.

“I grabbed the door and tried to pull it off of her — she was choking on seawater,” Edward Bemis said.

The couple’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Ashley, came running, still rubbing sleep from her eyes, trying to make sense of what was happening.

Then suddenly, the Salisbury Fire Department was at their door with an Emergency Code Red evacuation order, urging them to grab what they could and board evacuation vans waiting outside.

It was a surreal experience, and one that played out in many houses up and down North End Boulevard yesterday morning as high tide coupled with a dangerous storm surge from the Blizzard of 2013 came ashore on Salisbury Beach.

According to Salisbury emergency responders, more than of 50 dwellings were evacuated yesterday as the 10 a.m. high tide approached.

Hampton Police closed parts of Ocean Boulevard and a few other streets close to the beach. High tide also sent waves crashing into the streets, but police say there have been no reports of significant damage.

Salisbury police Chief Tom Fowler called a Code Red just before 9 a.m., announcing the mandatory evacuation of oceanfront homes. In addition to North End Boulevard, the evacuations affected Central Avenue, including about five units inside Michael’s Ocean Front Motel.

Getting out

It was about 9 a.m. when Michael’s Ocean Front manager Robin Weisenstein got a call from Salisbury emergency responders with an urgent evacuation order.

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