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(NECN: Ally Donnelly, Plum Island) – There was more destruction on Plum Island Tuesday as another house on the ocean-front community came down. This was the third house to be demolished. Another one is coming down, and dozens more are in danger.
Authorities assessed the damage Tuesday.
The fourth house to come down is Harry Trout’s. A few hours earlier Tuesday, it was a gorgeous, beach-front home, assessed at just under a million dollars. Two hours later, it is completely gone.
The houses on either side of it are slated to go down later this week.
As the claw of an excavator tore down his beloved home, Thomas Née focused on happier days.
“We had a great time, used to have three day parties,” he said.
Nee's is the third house sacrificed to Mother Nature on Plum Island. Two others on Annapolis Way plunged into the ocean after last week’s storm, and, of course, years of devastating beach erosion.
Make that four houses and counting... Demolition crews started in on Harry Trout's house on Fordham Way Tuesday afternoon. He didn't want to talk about it, but Building Inspector Sam Joslin gave us a look inside.
“I wouldn't go any further than this point,” he said as we're standing in Trout's basement workshop now with a gaping hole the ocean has chewed through.
“They are teetering on the edge, literally. The house to the north of this one, there’s three poles that are temporarily supporting it to try to keep it from teetering off the bank until we get a crew here to try to hopefully pull it back and not let it go into ocean,” the Newbury building inspector said.
Joslin says 30 homes along this stretch of the island are in imminent danger, and there's just no telling how many more the town could order torn down or how many could fall into the sea.
“At this point, we’re doing our best to keep ahead of Mother Nature and that’s a tall order.”
Some residents are frustrated by state regulations that don't allow them to scrape the beach or legally dump boulders to shore up their homes.
“Nothing's going to be done so I guess this is going to be oceanfront property fairly soon,” said neighbor Larry Goddard.
State officials say they’ve spent $400,000 trucking in sand to help Plum Island. Studies and this last storm prove scraping and armoring doesn't work, but according to the Department of Environmental Protection, putting homes on pilings or moving them off the dunes does.
“This is really about making sure that when people try to protect their homes, they do it in a way that A) works and B) doesn’t cause harm to their neighbors,” said Commissioner Ken Kimmell.
Speaking long-term, there has been one public meeting to figure out what to do to shore up these homes or make a plan going forward. There is expected to be another one Friday, March 22, between residents, local officials and state officials.
Police want you to pay close attention to yellow police tape, which is up all over this end of Plum Island. And they mean it. Do not cross police tape into these homes, properties or onto the beach. Nine people have already been arrested for trespassing, and police say, they will, if they have to, arrest more. No gawking. Pay attention.