A Massachusetts town spent $600K on shore protection. A winter storm washed it away days later – the Washington Post

Salisbury Beach, December 2016 (by Tim Sackton CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr).
Salisbury Beach, December 2016 (by Tim Sackton CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr).

A Massachusetts beach community is scrambling after a weekend storm washed away $600,000 in sand that was trucked in to protect homes, roads and other infrastructure.

The project, which brought 14,000 tons (12,701 metric tons) of sand into Salisbury over several weeks, was completed just three days before Sunday’s storm clobbered southern New England with strong winds, heavy rainfall and coastal flooding.

The Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change group, which facilitated the project and helped raise funds, posted on social media about the project’s completion last week and then again after the storm. They argued that the project still was worthwhile, noting that “the sacrificial dunes did their job” and protected some properties from being “eaten up” by the storm.

Tom Saab, president of the group and a real estate broker/developer, said the money was contributed by 150 property owners who said the state has refused to help them protect the beachfront and build up the dunes.

“The state will not contribute any money to the rebuilding of dunes. That is the bottom line,” Saab said. “Everybody is angry and upset. We can’t survive without sand rebuilding the dunes and can’t survive paying out of our pocket after every storm.”

Last weekend’s tempest was the latest of several recent severe storms in the community and across Massachusetts, which also suffered flooding, erosion and infrastructure damage in January.

Sand replenishment has been the government’s go-to method of shore protection for decades. Congress has long appropriated money for such work, arguing it effectively protects lives and property and sustains the tourism industry.

But critics say it’s inherently wasteful to keep pumping sand ashore that will inevitably wash away…

“What, and destroy $2 billion worth of property?” he asked. “Salisbury is home to thousands of people that use this beach in the summer. … It would be much cheaper to continue to rebuild dunes after a series of nor’easters like we’ve had over the past year than letting the beach be destroyed by the ocean.”

Still, others questioned the logic of dumping more sand on the beach.

Resident Peter Lodi responded to the Salisbury beach group’s Facebook post, saying he wasn’t sure why anyone was shocked.

“Throw all the sand down you want. Mother nature decides how long it will protect your homes,” he wrote. “It’s only going to get worse. Not sure what the solution is but sand is merely a bandaid on a wound that needs multiple stitches…”

See Also:

Lola Fadulu – the New York Times (03-15-2024):

Residents who live on Salisbury Beach, a seaside community in northern Massachusetts, paid for the sand dunes to protect their beachfront homes from storms. Then a storm came.

The owners of beachfront homes in the seaside community of Salisbury Beach in northern Massachusetts spent nearly $600,000 to have around 15,000 tons of sand dropped near their properties to protect themselves from future storms.

But the Atlantic Ocean had something else coming. The high tide and winds that pounded the area on Sunday washed nearly half of the sand away, mere days after it was placed…

“People are depressed, discouraged, angry,” said Tom Saab, the president of Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change, a group representing property owners that spearheaded the sand project. “The dunes did their job. They sacrificed themselves to protect the properties — no properties were really damaged.”

Then the nor’easter landed and took 50 percent of the sand and an estimated $300,000 worth of work, according to the group…

About half of Salisbury Beach properties have been owned by the same families since the period from the 1950s to the 1970s, and those owners are loath to renounce their ocean views, Mr. Saab said.

“Nobody wants to give up,” he said. “I will never give up on protecting Salisbury Beach.”

Ava Berger – the Boston Globe via MSN (03-14-2024):

Coastal flooding washes away half of $600,000 effort, paid for by property owners…

Salisbury residents are appealing to the state for help after flooding washed away approximately 7,500 tons of sand from Salisbury Beach over the weekend, destroying half of a $600,000 dune restoration project paid for by property owners.

“$300,000 of people’s hard-earned personal funds washed into the Atlantic,” said Tom Saab, president of Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change, a nonprofit that raised the money for the project.

About 150 property owners along a stretch of the popular state-owned beach paid to have 15,000 tons of sand trucked in to fortify dunes that buffer houses from the ocean — but most of it was wiped out three days later…

Back-to-back storms in January washed away much of the dunes, leaving homes weak and vulnerable. Residents scrambled to raise money to truck in sand and rebuild them…

But state environmental officials have said sand harvesting “would be damaging to the environment if we harvest the sand from dead low tide,” he said. “We’re not talking about digging six feet down, we’re talking about one foot deep.”

Salisbury Beach property owners have made multiple recent appeals to the state for assistance in recent years…

A DCR spokesperson noted that while access points to the beach, and the shoreline, are owned by the state, the area in front of the properties is privately owned…

WCVB Channel 5 Boston (03-10-2024):
‘Catastrophic’: Sand dune made to protect beachfront homes in Mass. washes away in 3 days

Homeowners invested more than $500,000 to bring in 14,000 tons of sand to protect their properties, but the barrier is now gone.

CBS (03-11-2024):
Salisbury Beach residents call on state to help protect their homes

Weekend high tides washed the sand away, leaving the coastline vulnerable to more flooding. WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports.

NBC (03-13-2024):
Salisbury Beach residents seek help to protect their homes

Homeowners spoke up at a community meeting about beach erosion concerns.

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