Bill Greene/Globe Staff
PLUM ISLAND -- Frankie Rizzuto was forced to evacuate her beachfront apartment in this picturesque seaside community after the sand eroded to within three feet of the wooden posts holding up the back deck.
“They gave us half an hour to get out,” said Rizzuto, 47, who was notified by Newbury Police.
She and her partner, Dee Martin, quickly mobilized. They called family and friends, rented a U-Haul truck, and packed up their belongings, including a couch, tables, a wardrobe, and dresser drawers still filled with clothes.
“We just grabbed everything quickly, Rizzuto said as she drove her Toyota SUV to a friend’s house nearby, where she planned to store her belongings in the garage.
“I’m happy to help out,” Deb Dimodana said, as the truck was unloaded into her garage. “I’m lucky I’ve never been evacuated.”
Rizzuto was one of the first homeowners evacuated on Plum Island after two days of driving rain and pounding surf eroded sand along the beachfront. The island was already on edge after two strong storms swept through over the past several weeks, causing erosion and threatening dozens of homes.
Rizzuto's was one of two homes on the southern end of the island ordered to be evacuated. Other residents could voluntarily evacuate. Power was cut to the area as a precaution, said Chuck Kostro, town administrator in Newbury.
He said town emergency management has been monitoring the tides continuously.
“The tide was pretty rough last night,” Kostro said.
He said the mandatory evacuations were called after the tide came within three feet of the dunes behind some of the homes.
“We determined it wasn’t safe for them to stay,” he said.
Plum Island has battled beach erosion in recent years, much of it on the northern edge, where homes have fallen into the sea. The recent back-to-back northeasters have started to erode the southern end, Kostro said.
The Feb. 25 storm resulted in the loss of 25 feet of sand, but it’s not clear how much was lost in today’s storm, he said.
“We continue to watch it,” he said.
Officials are closely watching the next high tide, scheduled for this evening, he said.
Minor flooding in other parts of the town caused streets to be closed, he said.
After unloading what she could at the garage, Rizzuto and eight friends returned to the apartment to load up the rest of her stuff. She plans to put it in a storage locker in Salisbury.
She plans to move at the end of the month to a new apartment away from the beach.
“I don’t like the sound of waves anymore,” she said.
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