Plum Island a warning for rest of coast, Boston?

plum island storm boston
Multiple homes on Annapolis Way on Plum Island had to be demolished after a storm caused major damage in the area.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/METRO

While they’re on the beaches miles north of Boston, the homes that have been toppled and demolished in the wake of the latest storm to hit the Bay State should serve as a warning for residents to prepare, a Boston Harbor group said.

“What Plum Island and New York and New Jersey have shown is that storms are becoming more frequent and more intense and property owners really do have to start to prepare not only for episodic incidents, but also for the long term,” said Vivien Li, president of The Boston Harbor Association. 

Li’s group put out a study earlier this year titled “Preparing for the Rising Tide.” It lays out recommendations for property owners to prepare for projected changes in sea levels and coastal flooding by the end of the century.

State Sen. Bruce Tarr and other officials sent a letter to Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday asking for assistance for residents of Newbury and Plum Island.

“In the past, and with the current storm, all involved parties have exercised all available means to protect homes and coastal infrastructure,” Tarr said in the letter. “Yet the current threat demands an even greater response, and thus we are seeking the assistance and expertise of state government to help protect homes that will likely remain in jeopardy for the next several days and for the foreseeable future.”

While Boston would not likely see the same damage done to the dozen Plum Island homes because of beach erosion, that doesn’t mean homes and commercial property in and around the city would be unscathed.

Li said that if retreat from the water is not an option, then adaption is and pointed to examples including condominium buildings moving mechanics like boilers to higher floors and the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in the Charlestown Navy Yard being raised one foot in anticipation of rising sea levels.

“It’s about the idea of starting to prepare,” Li said.

Plum Island problems
Near ocean homes were severely damaged and destroyed after the recent storm.
*At least two homes had the sand washed out from under them, sending them toppling to the waves and beach below, according to The Daily News in Newburyport.
*Building officials said three homes were demolished and about a dozen more are uninhabitable, according to the Globe.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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