By Marjorie Nesin
---- — As Hurricane Sandy rattled Cape Ann’s towns, residents braved the wind and rain, many with children out of school for the day, to witness the storm waters flooding Main Street in Essex, nudging Rockport’s dead whale further ashore and taking down trees in Manchester.
In Essex, the Causeway flooded. Regardless of its new seawall, three to five inches of water rippled in the roadway and more overflow converted parking lots to pools during a high tide at noon. Cars waded carefully through the sloshing water until about 12:15 p.m., when police blocked the road for about an hour, giving the flood water time to recede.
“It wasn’t as deep as it usually gets, believe it or not,” Police Chief Peter Silva said. “But the wind was really picking up and blowing a lot of water into the road.”
Power lines jiggled and swung under the wind’s pulse, and Albert Tang, the manager of the Fortune Palace Chinese restaurant, stood with both hands on the pane window, peering out the restaurant’s glass at the gushing water in the roadway. Tang said he had received many calls from people asking if the restaurant would stay open during the storm, and he said, the answer was yes.
“Always during the high tide it’s like this,” Tang said, “No business.”
Tang said business picks up again as the water drops — and as the tide reached it’s peak, customers began to wander in.
Akshay and Sarika Patel took the opportunity to stop in for lunch, both with work cancelled due to the storm. With the restaurant’s lot covered in a layer of flowing water, the couple parked at a nearby lot, and Sarika hopped on Akshay’s back for a piggyback ride before he waded through nearly eight inches of water.
“We wanted to try to turn the car in here to park, and I was like I don’t think that’s happening,” Akshay said.
The restaurant, like some others along Main Street, was island-like with water in flowing on all sides and flooding sidewalks along front in the new cultural district.
In Rockport’s cultural district, on Bearskin Neck, almost all of the businesses closed up shop for the day, with the exception of a few, including Ray Moore Lobster Company and Bean & Leaf coffee shop.
Still, people walked the neck and ventured into Dock Square.
And, Rockport’s Penzance Road bustled even more Monday, with visitors drawn in by the deteriorating whale carcass that washed ashore just over a week ago. Since school was cancelled for the day in all the Cape Ann towns, some parents brought their children to see the whale, which had shifted about 15 feet higher up on the beach.
Officials had hoped the storm surge might carry the carcass back out to sea to rot, but the noon high tide seemed to have the opposite effect.
“It is so much closer than it was,” Rockporter Candy Diaz said pointing in the direction of the whale from a walking path that leads to the beachfront. “It seems as the tide goes out, he’s not going with it.”
Diaz and her 10-year-old son Kamron Diaz have come to see the whale a handful of times. Kamron said he likes being able to walk around the body and check it out first hand. Candy said the beached whale presents a learning opportunity for her son.
“For him to get to see this first hand is just amazing,” Diaz said. “It is just something else.”
Seagulls struggled against the whirling wind. One swooped down, caught in a wave and rolled in the water before taking flight again. The water barreled in, breaking over the rocks, and spraying at a group of five or six kids all staring down at the whale body.
And as the waves crashed in Rockport, trees cracked and crashed in Manchester, downing power lines, including one line on School Street that remained active after falling, causing police to block off the road Monday evening. Downed lines knocked out power to many residents on Raymond and Harbor streets, according to officer Chris Locke. But, Locke said, police received few calls reporting outages Monday.
“We’ve mostly been fielding dozens and dozens of calls about downed trees,” Locke said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.