erosion

Damage to This Plum Island House Shows the Power of Friday's Winter Storm

The second floor was left hanging over empty space because of the damage, firefighters said

A damaged vacant home on Massachusetts' Plum Island after a storm blew through on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022.
Newburyport Fire Department

The powerful storm that hit New England Friday washed away a wall on the first floor of a beachfront house on Massachusetts' Plum Island, firefighters said Saturday.

The already-vacant house on 73rd Street at Reservation Terrace was being monitored by the Newburyport fire and building departments Saturday, according to fire officials. It "has long been a victim of ongoing erosion on Plum Island," they said in a statement.

The storm, which caused major coastal flooding up and down the New England coast, caused a rear wall of the home to wash away. The second floor was left hanging over empty space because of the damage, firefighters said.

Tens of millions of Americans endured bone-chilling temperatures, blizzard conditions, power outages and canceled holiday gatherings Friday from a winter storm that forecasters said was nearly unprecedented in its scope, exposing about 60% of the U.S. population to some sort of winter weather advisory or warning.

The damage was reported about 10:30 a.m. Friday. There were already plans to tear down the home, officials said, noting they had been in touch with its owners.

Plum Island has been dealing with erosion for years, and the area has been consdiering the ramifications of climate change on the barrier island's future.

"As a result of sea level and storm surge, the public and private fiscal costs (costs borne by the public as well as individual landowners and business owners) of maintaining the current level of services to Plum Island will continue to increase and ultimately become untenable," a 2021 report prepared for the town of Newbury found. "Both Newbury and Newburyport need to begin identifying and understanding those costs and benefits in order to be prepared for difficult decisions in the future."

Ahead of a storm surge Wednesday afternoon, crews on Plum Island in Massachusetts filled hundreds of "supersacks" to protect a neighborhood.

This summer, a $19 million federal project got underway to dredge sand from the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers, in part to help counteract erosion near in the Reservation Terrace area on Plum Island, fire officials said Saturday.

In January, when the project was announced, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday told The Newburyport Daily News that many on Plum Island were concerned about erosion, especially in Reservation Terrace, "where erosion patterns have destroyed the primary dune and left the homes without any protection from storms and high tide cycles."

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