The snowstorm that struck the Northeast in late January may have been a letdown in New York City. But in Massachusetts and Maine, the blizzard of 2015 more than lived up to its billing. Some towns around Boston received record snow totals by the end of January — with February bringing the promise of even more.
For New England builders, the weather is a setback. At Mike Horgan's zero-energy addition in Harwich on Cape Cod, framers Mike Hill and Russ Laffin were shoveling two feet of snow from around their half-built frame (below). "If it keeps snowing," said Hill, "we might go work on another job for a while."
But for the Massachusetts coast, the snow wasn't the only concern. South of Boston, the January nor'easter slapped the shoreline towns of Scituate, Marshfield, and Duxbury with high water and heavy surf. Antiquated seawalls failed in several spots, and a few homes along the shore took heavy damage. JLC's Coastal Connection visited Marshfield for a first-hand look at the destruction.
Marshfield's concrete seawall was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the 1930s. Today, towns along the shore maintain the wall with piecemeal efforts as funding is available. Coastal Connection met Marshfield Town Engineer Rod Procaccino (below) inspecting a temporary repair to a section of seawall that had been ripped out by the wave action.
"Fortunately, we had a contractor here working just prior to this storm hitting, doing a revetment repair just north of here," said Procaccino. "So we had a stockpile of rock, and I just directed them to fill in that hole." Further along the beach, said Procaccino, workers were repairing another breach. "We have steel plates going in there tonight," he said. "They're going to put sandbags behind the steel plate, to get us through the winter."
Homes near the breaches took major hits (see slideshow). Waves tore off siding, smashed through windows, and in a few places, ripped out walls. A few houses were condemned. Not surprisingly, elevated structures appear to have fared better than homes built at grade. At one house, breakaway panels had done their job (below), allowing water to enter the building's basement level but leaving the structure otherwise intact. Local contractor Brian Damon was on site with his client to thaw out frozen pipes and make temporary repairs, but he told Coastal Connection, "We're going to jack this house up this year."