Is Plum Island one superstorm away from disappearing?

A Plum Island home pitches into the sea / via Getty
A Plum Island home pitches into the sea. Several houses on the island were damaged last winter. Credit: Getty

Last March, horrified homeowners on Plum Island fought desperately to try to save their properties from literally being swallowed up by the roiling ocean. After being ravaged by weather last winter, many feared that this year-round community — also a popular destination for summer vacationers — was one super storm away from disappearing into the Atlantic.

“The damage was very localized,” says Deborah Hamilton, a local real estate specialist at RE/MAX on the River in Newburyport. “Depending on where people live, some are getting a little gun-shy. It’s only one stretch of the beach physically but, emotionally, the concern is wider.”

Hamilton owns a house on the island, but says that she feels no immediate danger.

“My property is on a part where a natural sandbar is building. A lot of people are now betting that it will be one of the safest,” she says. “Those people who know the area and which parts are affected by the storms are not afraid. It used to be the least desirable part of the island.”

Though Plum Island’s real estate market is not yet endangered, there are telltale signs that people may be rethinking its sea views. “In April, there were no sales, whereas last year there were four,” Hamilton says. “This year there were two in March; last year there were five.”

“People are not leaving in droves,” confirms Hamilton. “But there’s the perception that the homes were in harm’s way then and that they could be again.”

Island Stats

Plum Island is a naturally formed 11-mile-long, half-mile-wide stretch of sand, which grew into a barrier island over several thousand years. Beach erosion is a natural, ongoing event that many think is now exacerbated and hastened by global warming and rising sea levels.

Shoring up Plum Island, whose beaches are in a constant state of erosion and accumulation depending on location, might not help, long-term: “We watch the state bring in sand, but is it like using a teaspoon to shovel against the ocean?” says Hamilton. “It’s hard to say if anything we do will have any great effect. People are dealing with the short-term impact and just hoping it isn’t forever. It all depends on Mother Nature.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch

NBA

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.

NFL

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.