EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 12, 2013

Salisbury looks for help to fix gouged-out beach

SALISBURY — A special meeting is being called this morning to develop an immediate plan to repair the damage done to Salisbury Beach’s dunes, including Friday morning’s devastating high tide.

And last night, the man in charge of the agency that owns Salisbury Beach walked its sand to see the devastation wrought by last week’s storm tides.

Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Ed Lambert said after hearing about the havoc the storm caused from local officials, legislators and his own agency’s engineers, he felt he needed to bear witness personally to what’s left of Salisbury Beach.

A succession of storms, beginning with the Blizzard of 2013 and continuing almost weekly until Friday’s snowstorm, have eroded and in some cases obliterated much of the protective dunes system along the 3.8 miles of state-owned beach in Salisbury. Salisbury’s ocean-front homes that abut those dunes are now in peril of succumbing to future weather events.

In addition, many of the beach access ways drop off like cliffs, since the dunes that formerly graded down gently to the shore are now gone.

Perhaps the starkest illustration of how seriously the beach was damaged is at the end of Broadway and Driftway in Salisbury Beach Center. The pounding tides over three days carved tens of thousands of cubic yards of sand from the area, leaving behind a scarred scene reminiscent of a bombed-out site. Chunks of crumbling pavement litter the sand, former wooden pilings stick up 2 to 4 feet like spikes, and a huge rusty, metal foundation lays exposed and dangerous. They are remnants of buildings that stood decades ago that had been buried under yards of sand.

Last night, state Rep. Michael Costello said no one can remember the beach being in such a dire condition or homes along its shores being so threatened. Costello believes any restoration plan needs to focus on repairing the dune system in the north end of the beach in front of homes.

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