Two Plum Island homes demolished; five more structurally damaged

NEWBURY — By Friday night, Sharon Bresnahan and her family knew their Plum Island home on Annapolis Way was in serious trouble, battered by the strong high tides of this winter’s storms.

Bresnahan’s mother, Cecilia Azzarito, bought the house in the late ’60s. Bresnahan grew up going to the beach every summer, and brought her three children to the two-story dark gray house.

A construction crew was planning to refortify the foundation this Tuesday, Bresnahan said, but when she woke up early this morning and turned on the television she saw on the 6 a.m. newscasts that her mother’s house had tipped onto the shore, completely off its foundation.


“Time just ran out,’’ she said.

The house at 31 Annapolis Way was one of two houses demolished on the street this afternoon, said Newbury building inspector Sam Joslin.

Azzarito’s house, assessed at nearly $700,000, was the second on the street to fall this weekend, Joslin said.

“It was compromised at the high tide, and at about 2 in the morning it fell in under its own weight,’’ he said.

The house at 37 Annapolis Way will likely be demolished Sunday morning.

“It hasn’t fallen, but it is so structurally compromised that it can’t be saved at this time,’’ Joslin said.

The homeowner, Thomas Nee, took what he could from the property during low tide Friday. Large chunks on concrete had already fallen onto the beach, and at least one support beam had snapped.

“I really don’t want to talk about it,’’ Nee told a Globe reporter on Friday. “I’ve been talking about it for two months. It’s over. It’s gone.’’

Two doors down, at 41 Annapolis Way, an $800,000 house fell into the high tide Friday.

Four more houses on nearby Fordham Way were also seriously damaged this morning.

“Four have serious structural issues,’’ Joslin said. “I’m guessing two of those do not look like they’ll be able to be repaired.’’


This morning’s high tide brought more damage to beach-front homes on the barrier island where the Atlantic Ocean has been chipping away at beaches and properties for years.

“Some stuff that had minor damage last night was severely impacted this morning. We were expecting a higher than normal tide, but not at high as this one,’’ Joslin said. “And the duration of the tide — it would just not go out. It took hours to recede.’’

Bill Barrett, chief executive of Plum Island Construction on Southern Boulevard, said in a phone interview shortly before noon that he spent Friday putting 4-foot, 5,000-pound concrete blocks on the beach to protect his neighbors’ houses from the rising tides.

“I think because the beach is so flat now, the tide really doesn’t move that much,’’ Barrett said. “I was here late last night, and it was about an hour after low tide, and it was only about 50 feet off the dunes.’’

Barrett said he bought a house on Plum Island, close to the beach but not on the shore, in 2006 and moved there full time three years later. His home is not in danger, he said, but he planned to return to the beach today to place more concrete blocks.

“It’s very sad what’s going on, very devastating,’’ he said.

The Merrimack River Beach Alliance, a group comprised of officials and residents from Newbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury, is planning to meet Monday at 11 a.m. at the Plum Island Taxpayers Hall in Newbury to discuss the storm damage.

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