Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Great Swampscott Flood of 2011

The last year or so we have seen some extreme weather conditions in Swampscott. Most recently in August we caught the tail end of Hurricane Irene. In 25 years, I have never seen so many Swampscott boats washed up on King's Beach. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, there was a rainstorm that brought 6 inches of rain in 90 minutes at high tide in a town where storm water drains to the sea.

Think about it - all that water hitting pavement and lawns and draining into storm drains, bringing with it everything lying on the ground, e.g., cigarette butts, plastic bottles, candy wrappers, and any other trash lying in the street, flushing it all into the ocean. If you walk to King's Beach, you can see the outfall pipe at Stacy Brook. Frequently, after heavy rainfall in the summer, the beach is posted for high bacteria levels. This summer while walking on Lynn Shore Drive, I noticed that the beach was posted, then glanced down to see a young couple with a toddler playing in the waves. They were the only ones on the beach. Should I have said something? Had they not seen the sign or had they just decided to ignore it?

At the Town Selectmen's Meeting on Oct. 13, people came to discuss what had happened. Many were upset. Their property had been destroyed by flooding -  basements, furniture, autos - and for a variety of reasons their insurance companies were denying their claims. Some were in areas that repeatedly experienced flooding. Others reported this as a first. However, as one of the victims noted, water levels are rising and we are on the coast. This is not going to improve, and we may well see more of this type of flooding in the future.

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