After blizzard, oceanfront Massachusetts cleans up from flooding – Reuters

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

MARSHFIELD, Mass. (Reuters) – Ocean Street in the waterfront Massachusetts town of Marshfield was littered with lobster traps, downed wires and chunks of houses on Wednesday, the day after a massive blizzard hammered New England.

Notably absent was much of the 2 feet (30 cm) of snow that blanketed much of the Boston area, since for much of the storm, Ocean Street was under water because of flooding from a breached sea wall. About a dozen homes were badly damaged.

“This area sees flooding regularly, but we haven’t seen damage like this since the blizzard of ’78,” town planner Greg Guimond said as he surveyed the wreckage. “The problem was the sustained wave action; the houses can’t handle it.”

Much of the ocean-facing section of Marshfield remained without power on Wednesday, and homes were coated in ice. Residents who rode out the storm said they had relied on fireplaces to keep warm.

Further up the coast, Scituate also reported flood damage. Governor Charlie Baker was due to tour both storm-hit towns on Wednesday.

Tim Mannix, whose Marshfield house was pounded by waves after the seawall failed, watched a front-end loader clear debris away from the front of the building. His face was badly bruised and marked by a long line of stitches above his nose after waves knocked a sliding glass door on him.

“Thankfully it was a fast-moving storm, just one tide,” the 58-year-old fisherman said. “Imagine what it would have been like had it stayed around.”

While the ocean was visible through the house from the inland side of the building, Mannix said he was not yet sure if his home was a total loss.

“I don’t know about the future,” he said. “I’m not making any decisions today.”

Millions across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York were digging out on Wednesday from the storm, which dumped up to 3 feet (90 cm) of snow in places, though it largely bypassed New York City.

Schools remained closed in Boston and throughout much of eastern Massachusetts on Wednesday, but the local transit system ramped back up.

Boston’s airport resumed operations around 8 a.m. (1300 GMT), but one in four departing flights had been canceled, according to FlightAware.com.

FATALITIES ACROSS REGION

Further south, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut escaped the worst of the storm, despite dire predictions by meteorologists and officials. New York City’s subway system restarted after being closed for 10 hours.

The severe weather claimed the lives of at least two people. Police in Trumbull, Connecticut, said an 80-year-old man collapsed while shoveling snow and died on Tuesday at a nearby hospital.

Police said a teenager died late on Monday when he crashed into a lamppost as he was snow-tubing in the New York City suburb of Suffolk County, on the east end of Long Island, which had more than 2 feet of snow in places.

New Yorkers were divided on whether Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had overreacted ahead of the storm. Cuomo had ordered a travel ban on all roads in the southern part of the state, while the subway system closed for the first time in history due to snow.

‘WORSE AND WORSE’

As he surveyed the damage in Marshfield while walking his dog, 67-year-old Donny Boormeester said the storm was the worst he had experienced since moving to the town in 1969.

“Every year, the storms get worse and worse,” the retired produce buyer said. “The water gets closer to the houses.”

He said the streets near his home flooded twice a year in recent years, an estimate his neighbors agreed with.

“It used to be a novelty,” Boormeester said.

Fisherman John Havland spent the storm plowing the streets and was pleased to see that the waterfront home he moved into six months ago had withstood the deluge, helped because it stands on stilts, as required of new waterfront construction in the town.

“It’s just part of living by the beach,” said Havland, who declined to give his age.

The town, meanwhile, is looking for other ways to protect homes from flooding, including seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to help raise other houses above potential floodwaters.

“We just had a meeting with FEMA on Thursday about elevation grants,” Guimond said.

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Barber in Boston, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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