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January 4, 2014

Storm leaves coastal damage in its wake

Snow, storm surge sock Cape Ann's coast

The two-day nor’easter that dumped 18 inches or more of snow onto Gloucester and Cape Ann’s towns, then drove heavy ocean storm surges over their coastlines, is gone now.

But emergency crews, residents and businesses are continuing today to clean up the storm’s chilling aftermath, topped off by subzero temperatures that plunged the region into a deep chill Friday night.

With schools in all three Cape Ann school districts shut down Friday for a second straight day, and with street snow declarations and street parking bans in place in Gloucester and even extended through Sunday in Manchester, hundreds of municipal, state and privately contracted road crews took to area streets, roads and highways — carrying right through from overnight Thursday into late Friday morning.

But the pounding storm’s heaviest impact came shortly after noon Friday, when high tide brought sea water rushing over seawalls and snowbanks on several fronts, from Magnolia, to Gloucester’s Stacy Boulevard and Back Shore, and in Rockport, which took some of the most dire hits.

On Bearskin Neck, the storm surge collapsed the tip of the breakwater, while the iconic spindle and beacon at the tip of the jetty Neck crashed into the sea,

Rosemary Lesch, one half of Rockport’s harbormasters duo, said Friday she had a premonition about the breakwater giving out on Thursday.

”I just had the feeling it was going to go,” she said Friday afternoon. Lesch estimated that the granite blocks were about 20 feet high and had been intact for 50 to 60 years.

”It was getting more damage every storm,” she said.

A 24-foot vessel also succumbed to the weather early Friday morning, Lesch said, sinking at its mooring off T-Wharf. No one, however, was injured — and that characterization held up across Cape Ann throughout the storm, according to various police reports.

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