Five weeks after the Blizzard of 2013 left its mark on Cape Ann, and just days after a surprisingly fierce snowstorm and storm surge, residents, officials and business owners around Cape Ann are continuing to pick up the pieces.
Topping the list is a sling litany of erosion and seawall damage, city and town officials said.
In Gloucester, the storm surge this past weekend coupled with damage done by the Blizzard of 2013 has delivered significant damage to the Lane’s Cove Seawall, according to Mike Hale, the Director of the Department of Public works for the city.
”The Lanes Cove seawall is a much bigger issue today than it was after Nemo,” he said;, referring to the name given the Blizzard by The Weather Channel last month. Also, the wall breached during last Friday’s storm also suffered damage in 2010.
Hale said the water did not recede out of the cove as fast as it normally does, which could have a significant impact on Lane’s Cove.
Hale said there are no numbers yet as to how much damage the city will have to pay for and what the financial implications will be, city officials continue to meet with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deal with the disaster.
He also plans to discuss the safety of moorings in the cove with the city’s harbormaster.
In addition, Good Harbor Beach, namely the sand dunes and sidewalks suffered heavy erosion, Hale said.
Brad Pierce, who manages the Cape Ann Motor Inn which sits on the Gloucester side of Long Beach, literally lost a portion of his business to the recent storm.
Pierce lost large sections of a stairwell and deck between Friday’s storm and over the weekend, estimating the damage at around $40,000 when an insurance representative visited Monday.
In addition, Pierce suspects the shipwreck which was previously uncovered by the storm has now been carried back into the ocean.
Further down the beach in Rockport, things were not much better; that section of seawall also saw a lot of erosion to the beach and the seawall behind it, said the town’s DPW director, Joseph Parisi.
On Front Beach and Back Beach in Rockport, DPW crews were using heavy lifting equipment to remove piles of rocks which washed ashore due to previous storms.
Parisi added that debris from Front Beach has washed up into the culvert, blocking the stream channel flow out from Mill Pond. Crews were working Monday to clear the blockage up as much as possible so the nearby meadow would not flood.
Rockport Police Lt. Mark Schmink, who also serves as the town’s emergency management director, said the most recent storm did leave its mark, but the town is still gauging the damage from February’s blizzard.
Schmink met with members of the National Guard and MEMA to assess the immediate aftermath and will continue to measure preliminary damage assessments this week.
Manchester too saw significant erosion on Singing Beach, according the towns’ DPW director Steven Kenney.
Kenney, who is set to resign at the end of this week, estimated the surrounding wall and beach damage there at about $20,000.
Tracy Kaszuva, a Salem woman who frequents the beach to walk her dog, was surprised at the damage on Monday.
”I’m blown away,” she said. “I thought I’d have some beach left.”
Kenney, along with other officials throughout Cape Ann, said funding for seawall repairs, sediment nourishment and debris removal would be challenging.
Public assistance, funded by MEMA, grants up to 75 percent of all storm related costs, from overtime to infrastructure, to towns and cities in the state. But the money is awarded by county, and a county must reach a certain limit of money needed before it is awarded.
Essex County needs more than $2.5 million in damages to be eligible for funding, or, if the sum of all the counties meets or exceeds the state threshold, —currently $9 million — those counties in need are eligible for state funding.
Schmink said that Rockport alone has seen more than $2.5 million in damages from the Blizzard of 2013, making it a priority for MEMA.
State Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) has filed legislation both this year and last year, which if passed would make seawall funding easier to obtain and investigate a long-term solutions to coastal erosion. He noted Monday both the Stacy Boulevard seawall in Gloucester and the price tag associated with Rockport’s Long Beach seawall, an estimated $13 million.
“There is clearly an imminent need that neither the state or federal government has been able to meet,” he said.
Legislature filed last year by Tarr, which was signed by Gov. Deval Patrick in January created a repair and removal revolving fund, where about $8.5 million will be made available for seawall repair and other protective methods from storm surges. Tarr acknowledged this legislation is not a cure all for coastal communities, but it is recognition the state should provide funding for these problems.
This year, Tarr filed legislation that would create a statewide commission to investigative the impacts and provide solutions to coastal erosion. The commission would consist of officials from several state offices, appointed municipal employees, an engineer, a geologist and coastal property owners, among others. The commission would be required to file a report about eight months, if it is created.
He added he is pushing for the commission’s provisions into this year’s state budget.
“The idea of going to the Seaport Advisory Council for sporadic amounts of money is not a solution to the problem,” he said.
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.