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February 11, 2013

Bearskin Neck hit hard

While wreaking havoc with the Good Harbor Beach area of Gloucester, the Blizzard of 2013 delivered some of its harshest blows to Rockport, where the Saturday storm surge caused especially heavy damage to shops, restaurants and buildings along the town’s historic Bearskin Neck, left as many as 400 customers without power, and spurred some 50 residents to seek temporary shelter at an American Red Cross shelter set up at Rockport High School.

Frank Scalli was checking on his mother’s house, near North Road Sunday afternoon.

He was surprised to find a newly purchased grill wedged underneath the back porch of the house, as well as rocks from the nearby seawall tossed into the backyard, where they had also damaged parts of the porch.

There was significant damage to the foundation of the house as well.

My Place by the Sea, one of Cape Ann’s premier restaurants and one that sits on the tip of Bearskin Neck, lost its entire lower deck, the co-owners Barbara Stavropoulos and Kathy Milbury said Sunday. The storm surge came right under the deck, sweeping it out and leaving rocks in its place, Stavropoulos said.

“The last time it was this bad was 1978,” she said, referring to that devastating blizzard that struck 35 years to the week before the weekend storm.

But the restaurateurs, to an extent, took the storm assault with a sense of relief that the storm didn’t take a far worse toll.

“I see the damage, and I think, ‘at least it can be replaced,’” Milbury said.

Rockport’s selectmen held an emergency meeting Friday, and voted to declare a formal state of emergency for that town as well. Selectman said that declaration allows officials to call in additional town personnel, and carry out emergency spending if needed. And the National Guard and officials from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency visited Rockport to assess the damage.

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