High tides cause flooding in Rockport, Scituate, Marshfield, and other coastal communities
MARSHFIELD — Chris Lynch stood in his Plymouth Avenue driveway here today, stunned that his home, which is four blocks from the Atlantic Ocean, could be surrounded by seawater.
“I’ve never seen it this high, ever,” said Lynch, who grew up in Scituate but has lived in Marshfield for the past seven years.
Lynch, who works as an electrical contractor in Scituate, shook his head as he looked at the inches-deep, slushy accumulation covering his front yard in the 300 block of Plymouth Avenue.
“I’m not sure if the beaches are eroding more or the tides are getting worse. It came right up to the driveway this time, near the front of the tires,’’ said Lynch. “This isn’t rain or snow water, this is saltwater.’’
On Plum Island, officials said a dozen homes were placed in jeopardy by the storm-whipped tide.
In Scituate, Jim Farran, 80, a retired plumber, lost his car, refrigerator and heating system in last month’s blizzard, after three feet of water flooded his basement and driveway on Oceanside Drive, just north of 10th Avenue.
“This time we prepared ourselves,” he said. “Where the water came in before, we built up a barricade, on the back side, but Mother Nature decided to fool us, and this time she came from the ocean side.” Still, it wasn’t as bad as the February blizzard, he said.
From Farran’s two-story house as far as the eye could see, Oceanside Drive was under water, the wind rippling the surface as two ducks waded down the street. Nearby the door of a wooden shed lay twisted and the shed itself had been lifted from its foundation and deposited several feet away, bent out of shape.
Town officials said residents in flooded neighborhoods self-evacuated and no one had to be rescued by the Scituate fire department.
Also, in contrast to the blizzard, at most 10 people sought went to the town shelter, down from more than 350 who used town facilities in the last storm. The key difference, officials said, was that the power stayed on during this week’s turbulence.
In Pembroke, reports of downed trees and wires ramped up as the snow has intensified. Fire Chief Jim Neenan said the department had received 10 calls between 9 and 11 a.m.
“Until this ends, we’ll stay pretty busy,” Neenan said.
In Plymouth, like so many other coastal communities, parts of the shoreline and coastal bluffs saw major erosion from this morning’s high tide, including the White Horse and Long Beach areas.
“We likely have severe erosion on Cedar Hill area along coastal part of town,” Plymouth Emergency Management Director Aaron Wallace said.
The heavy, wet snow has contributed to power outages and difficult road conditions, though the town has been working with NStar and the National Guard to tackle problems as they come, Wallace said.
On the North Shore, a quarter-mile stretch of beachside road has buckled and washed out in Rockport, prompting town officials to shut it down, Rockport police said.
The sand once supporting the span of Penzance Road abutting the oceanfront was washed out by the tide this morning, crippling and crumpling the pavement, Rockport Police Patrolman Bill Budrow said.
The area commonly floods during storms, requiring public works crews to bulldoze sand to clear the roadway.
“This time, it’s going to need a little more work,” Budrow said.
On Cape Cod, the staircase linking visitors of the Marconi and Nauset Light beaches to the sea — already damaged by February’s blizzard—was washed away by today’s storm, according to George Price, superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet.
Price noted that while this storm has brought on a lot of erosion caused by the excessive winds and multiple high tides, the hardest part is that this is just one in a series of storms that have impacted the national seashore this winter, making it difficult to assess the damage to the area.
Still, that hasn’t changed the minds of the curious onlookers trying to get a glimpse of Mother Nature at work.
“There are a number of places where we’ve had to limit access,” Price said. “We’re concerned about slumping or landslides … but sturdy Cape Codders take these storms in strides.”
Back in Marshfield, Tim Mannix managed to both shrug off the storm and to light a cigarette despite the gusting winds and swirling snow.
Mannix, a fisherman, said the storm ranked maybe third behind the Blizzard of ’78 and the No-Name Storm of 1991. He has lived here for 50 years, and evacuated once, for the No-Name storm.
“Mom’s upstairs right now, 86 years old,’’ Mannix said. “It’s just another storm.”
The Mannix family home, at Ocean Street and Dyke Road in Marshfield, lost sliders on one side of the house last month. This storm destroyed the sliders on the other half.
“We already had the damage from the blizzard, so it’s a good thing I didn’t start repairing yet,” said Mannix, 57.Brian Ballou can be reached at BBallou@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeBallou.