Gloucester assesses damage after storm

The repeated blows from one strong storm after another have dealt a difficult hand to the town of Gloucester.

The seawall at Lane’s Cove, over 100 years old and made of slabs of granite, was damaged during last week’s storm. To Gloucester’s Director of Public Works Michael Hale, it has passed the point of no return, and will need to be replaced.

“The water was coming over as if the wall wasn’t there,” Hale said.

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Hale said the seawall has been damaged and breached a number of times in the past 50 years, and with its condition after the latest storm, it now risks the entire cove area, including the stone pier and the people whose livelihoods are still reliant upon the cove.

“It’s not a matter of putting stones back in place,” Hale said. “The foundation is jeopardized and we need to work from the bottom up to think about both its aesthetics and functionality.”

The seawall, protected by slabs of granite, is filled with gravel and small stones, which Hale said is not the recipe for protection from serious storms.

Following the Feb. 8-9 blizzard, town officials were working to assess damage in the town — until they were cut off by another storm. Followed by another.

“We started doing the assessment right after the blizzard and we never really got finished,” Hale said.

According to Gloucester Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk, the town has enough funds to repair the wooden footbridge at Good Harbor Beach, shattered during the blizzard, as well as clean up beach parking lots and public bathrooms ahead of the summer season.

But the more extensive damage, like that inflicted on the massive seawall, requires repairs outside of the town budget, and ultimately assistance from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Now the town is working to catalog the storm damage in the hopes of receiving aid, which would ideally fund the construction of a new seawall.

“This recovery is going to take some time, as with all storms,” Hale said, “But a quick drive-by repair isn’t going to do enough here.”