Blizzard Reignites Coastal Erosion Concerns | NECN

Blizzard Reignites Coastal Erosion Concerns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (NECN: Ally Donnelly, Sandwich, Mass.) - Bill Kolisko takes his dog Annie for a walk twice a day on Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. What he found this morning took his breath away.

    "Just amazement, if anything, I was amazed at what's happened here," Bill Kolisko said.

    There used to be long, sloping dunes down to the beach here, but during last week's blizzard, the ocean gnawed off huge chunks of land and spit it back into the sea.

    "The cliffs look like a mini Grand Canyon, that they're absolutely straight up and down," Eastham resident Betsy Richards said.

    Long buried, roots swaths of exposed peat -- evidence of thousands of years of growth uncovered.

    "I would say there's a good 20 feet missing," said Richards. "It's just devastating, it's unbelievable."

    Up and down the Cape, cities and towns report erosion from 10 to as many as 25 feet of beach.  At nearby Nauset Light, the steps leading down to the beach no longer have sand supporting them and the bottom quarter steps are gone. Similar scenes at Marconi Beach in Wellfleet and on the bayside of Eastham, chunks of parking lot now stepping stones on the newly carved beach below.

    Richard Becker, who owns a vacation home in Eastham shrugged, "It's nature, you know,  it does it's thing."

    George Price, Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore, says normally the Coast sees about 2 to 3 feet of beach erosion for the entire year. They've restricted access to several beaches and fear gawkers climbing onto unstable dunes.

    "Obviously, We think this all sand," he said. "But in fact there will be clay lens that go down and as the water goes down those clay lenses, it cuts it like a wire through cheese and then it weakens it and the whole thing could go at once."

    There are also fears for private homes. In Sandwich, the surf pounded the beach beneath walkways and chewed through foundations of a handful of cottages off Salt Marsh Road.  

    Insisted Town Selectman Jim Pierce, "There's three things we need to fix this: We need permits from the EPA and Massachusetts environmental people. We need access to sand and we need money and last estimate I heard was $15 to $20 million to re-nourish this beach."