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Tue February 12, 2013
Snowstorm Battered Cape Cod Shoreline
As the weekend blizzard moves off the coast, it leaves in its wake a number of damaged beaches along Cape Cod’s Atlantic shoreline.
The ferocious weekend blizzard that battered Cape Cod took a major toll on some of the Cape’s Atlantic-facing beaches. In Eastham, the entrance to Coast Guard Beach had been transformed.
Standing at the edge of where you would normally walk down to go to the beach, there’s a huge swath of the beach that’s been taken out. Right at the point where in the summer you’d walk down to Coast Guard Beach on a nice sloping pathway, it now reaches a point where it’s a sheer drop-off into this strange-looking landscape of exposed tree trunks and black clay that clearly has not been exposed for many, many years.
And the shoreline is completely different from what it was the last time I was here. It used to be that you’d look southward and the beach would sort of slope back to these very low dune areas. Now, the dunes are about 20 feet high, and it looks as though someone’s just come along with a machete and hacked them right off.
Eastham resident John Handle had come out to survey the damage with his kids.
“It’s truly amazing,” Handle said. “And we also just came from the Bay side, and the washout over there on the other side was amazing as well. Just the whole parking lots are flooded, and some of them are damaged quite extensively.”
A little further north, the dunes at Nauset Light Beach had eroded ten feet or more.
Standing looking directly down at what’s left of the stairs leading down from the parking lot to Nauset Light Beach, the entire bottom half of the stairway is gone, most likely washed out to sea. One of the handrails is sticking out in mid-air. Looking down the beach, I can see a couple of huge rocks which are thrown up by the ocean, and also a lobster pot that broke its mooring.
Karst Hogeboom is chief of facilities and maintenance at the Cape Cod National Seashore. He says that in the storm’s aftermath, the Atlantic side dunes are unstable.
“It’s very dangerous out there at the moment, because the coastal bluff is so steep, and it’s not safe to walk either at the bottom, next to it, or at the top next to it, because it could give way at any point, especially with this rain that we’re getting now, which is saturating the soil as well,” Hogeboom said.
Hogeboom said that protracted nor’easters often do more damage than hurricanes, because they can last for two or three tide cycles. He said repairs to the beaches and their infrastructure won’t begin right away.
Hogeboom: We’re not going to do anything for a couple of months, because we don’t want to do the work and then have it undone by the next nor’easter that comes along,” he said.
The storm laid bare a side of the Cape’s Atlantic shore that summer tourists rarely see. Recovery will be slow. But officials expect to have these battered beaches back to normal in time for the next wave of visitors.