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
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Wellbeing

Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…