New Castle News

March 8, 2013

Coastal Mass. home collapses into sea


CNHI News Service

NEWBURY, Mass. — The ocean has claimed a home on Massachusetts' Plum Island, an area that has for years born the brunt of coastal erosion and where other homes remain in danger from high tides.

Reports from the scene say the house at 41 Annapolis Way toppled from the brunt of the raging sea soon after 8:30 a.m. as high tide hit. It sat at a 45 degree angle, half on the dune and half on the beach, with wreckage and personal belongings spilling out into the waves that lashed at it.

The house is owned by Steve and Lucy Bandoian, as trustees. It was built in 1981 and is valued at $168,900, according to town assessor records. It replaced a building that was damaged during the Bluzzard of '78.

There are two buildings on the lot, leadng to earlier misinformation on the exact address of the damaged home. The land value of the lot is listed at $500,000.

The home was one of about seven that has been previously posted as unstable. It had been teetering on the edge all morning.The house was unoccupied.

While not as serious, other damage was reported along Annapolis Way and Fordham Way during this morning's high tide. Neighbors say that two, or possibly three homes along that stretch of beach may be in peril. Officials at the scene say the next high tide, which will take place around 8:30 p.m., is expected to cause more erosion damage.

In total, 12 homes have been ordered evacuated.

"Everyone is taking a beating," Kathy Connors of Annapolis Way said around 8:45 a.m. "It's beating the crap out of everyone."

In recent weeks, Annapolis Way homeowners have paid to install "coir bags" along the waterside of their properties. These 40-foot-long sandbags form a propective wall against the surf. The wall of sandbags is about a quarter mile long. The bags took a beating in today's storm, and in some areas they have been severely damaged.

The 200-yard stretch of homes along Annapolis Way have borne the brunt of erosion problems over the past several months. Two years ago, a home about 50 yards north of 41 Annapolis Way was demolished when the dune underneath it was compromised and its concrete foundation began to fall apart. Another home was built on the same lot, though not as close to the dune edge.

However in recent weeks, the erosion problem has started to migrate southward, along Fordham Way to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. In all, there are about two dozen seaside homes that have seen their waterside dunes severely eroded by recent storms.

Annapolis Way is located about 100 yards south of the Beach Center. Five years ago, it was the Beach Center and the dunes stretching 300 yards north of it that were taking a severe pounding. The federal and state governments spent $5.1 million to pump in sand to that stretch of beach, as well as a section of Salisbury Beach. The project stabilized the erosion problem at the Beach Center, however the problem simply shifted to the south.

Some believe that the presence of a sandbar offshore plays the crucial role in determining where erosion occurs. A narrow sandbar, located about 100 to 200 yards offshore, stretches along the northern end of the island. It ends just north of Annapolis Way. Areas that are behind the sandbar have seen their beach grow, while areas that are not protected by the sandbar have been suffering some of the worst erosion.