Wind and Waves Slam the Massachusetts Shoreline

Chunks of concrete lie on the ground next to a heavily damaged house in Marshfield, Mass., on January 28, 2015. Waves ripped into the 1930s-era seawall in several places, battered some structures, and strewed stones as large as basketballs on the seaward-side yards and porches of some homes.

The oceanfront faces of two Marshfield houses bear the marks of battering waves and wind-driven flood waters after the January 2015 storm. Both of these houses were totaled by the nor’easter.

Rushing water ripped down the seaward-facing walls of this house, causing the roof to collapse. The water pushed large stones from the ocean up onto the property.

After the failure of a nearby stretch of concrete seawall, swirling ocean water crashed through the lower story of this house and undermined this deck on the landward side.

After the storm passed, Marshfield Town Engineer Rod Procaccino directed this emergency repair, accomplished with large boulders originally intended for nearby revetment work. Town crews along this stretch of shoreline maintain the aging seawall as best they can when funds are available.

The back of the house near the failed seawall, where wind-driven water did major damage.

Elevated homes a few lots away from the large seawall breach survived better, but still experienced some damage.

The weather ripped some vinyl siding off the side wall of this house near the Marshfield seawall breach.

Farther from the shore in Harwich on Cape Cod, framing contractor Mike Hill and carpenter Russ Laffin shoveled out the job site after the storm. With more snow on the way, Hill said, he would probably spend a few days on some inside work at another location.

Snow covered the partially framed Harwich addition to nearly the depth of the windowsills after the storm.

Marshfield oceanfront homeowner Joe Hackett, himself also a contractor, stands by the door of his heavily damaged garage at his house next to the ocean, near a badly damaged section of seawall. The flood during the storm washed out a plastic tub full of cordless tools that Hackett had stored in the garage in case he needed to repair the house, along with 100 pounds of framing nails, he said.

A view of the damaged back wall of contractor Joe Hackett’s garage next to his oceanfront house in Marshfield. Despite Hackett’s temporary emergency repair, town officials had tagged the structure as unsafe.

Contractor Joe Hackett stands next to his oceanfront house in Marshfield. Hackett stayed in the house through the storm, while pounding waves threw water higher than the roof. His wooden plank storm shutters protected the first-floor windows and kept the interior of the house dry, but basement windows at the side of the house broke and allowed water to soak the basement. An ocean-view deck on grade and a bulwark at the front of the house disappeared into the water, but Hackett credits the bulwark for helping to protect the house before it failed.

A view under the porch of Hackett’s neighbor’s house shows the structural repair Hackett effected when the porch collapsed in a previous storm. Hackett says he has repaired his own house eight times after damaging storms.

Crashing waves damaged the cedar shingle siding on Hackett’s house during the storm in the pre-dawn hours. The shingles have been pushed up and snapped, but Grace Ice and Water Shield used as underlayment appears to have protected the wall framing and sheathing.

Shingles snapped by wave action during the storm on Joe Hackett’s house in Marshfield, Mass.

Wooden storm shutters hung from metal hardware and dogged down with a 2x6 bar protected Hackett’s first-story windows from crashing waves during the blizzard. Wind-driven spray and snow coated the underside of the porch roof.

A closer look at the storm shutter hardware. This storm shutter protected the house during the storm, keeping water out of the first floor as homeowner Joe Hackett rode out the storm on site.

A closer look at the metal bracket that holds a shimmed 2x6 bar in place to secure the storm shutters.

Rime ice and wind-driven snow coat the underside of the porch roof. Freezing weather and more snow continued to hammer New England after the January blizzard.

A view of the damaged Marshfield seawall from the beach below. At high tide during the storm, waves overtopped the seawall and tore chunks of concrete from its cap. Crashing surf reached as high as the roof ridges of these buildings, eyewitnesses say. The house at center was severely damaged, with water crashing through the front windows and doors and continuing through the house to blow out windows on the landward side of the building.

A closer view of the badly damaged house directly behind the failed Marshfield seawall. Apparently, these rolling metal storm shutters could not protect the home’s windows from the battering wind-driven ocean waves, which deposited large stone onto yards at several places along the shoreline.

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