GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 21, 2013

Town, business owners continue cleanup

Town, businesses picking up pieces after Blizzard of 2013

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ROCKPORT — Less than two weeks ago, Bearskin Neck business owners and residents were starting to look toward perhaps an early spring.

Now, after high winds and a massive storm surge brought evacuations and heavy damage, those same people are continuing to pick up the pieces from the Blizzard of 2013.

Although Rockport police Lt. Mark Schmink is still pulling together the numbers on any damage estimates across the town and its business district, the remnants of the blizzard are everywhere.

A parade of crews from the Department of Public works were working along Bearskin Neck Wednesday afternoon, using loaders and heavy equipment to haul away chunks of asphalt and other debris from the circular roadway at the water’s end of the popular summer shopping district, while the retaining seawall below also needs repair.

The DPW director, Joe Parisi, said the cleanup was progressing well so far.

Sections of Penzance Road and Gap Head road were previously impassable, but crews have worked since the storm surge, and sections of the roads were opened up earlier this week, he said. Penzance Road had also been shut down because of rocks lying in the roadway, all washed up from nearby Pebble Beach.

Parisi said while Long Beach did not suffer from any significant erosion that would damage the footing of the seawall, but the backside of the seawall did sustain some damage.

“If it [the storm] was any worse, it could have wiped the whole area out,” he said.

Parisi said the cleanup costs are still being assessed, but the money is coming from the department’s budget.

Parisi said officials from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency still need to take note of all of the damage; from there, the town would be able to get funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reimburse cleanup costs.

Just across the street from the DPW crews working on the tip of Bearskin Neck, the restaurant My Place By the Sea is still in need of repairs.

Co-owner Kathy Milbury said she is wary if the building will be ready in time for the spring season, as the restaurant usually opens about six weeks from now.

Milbury said that, while she and fellow owner Barbara Stavropoulos realized immediately that sections of the lower deck had been washed away, more subtle damage has popped up as well.

“We didn’t think upstairs had any damage, but there was a crack in the ceiling,” she said Wednesday.

Milbury, like town officials, said she does not yet have a damage estimate, with insurance agents and engineers still assessing the storm’s hit on one of Cape Ann’s premier fine dining restaurants.

She also noted lesser damage left behind by Superstorm Sandy and the nor’easter that hit New England at the end of the last year.

“It gives you a perspective,” she said, “of what it takes to own a business in Rockport,”

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.