Monday, August 31, 2015

Fairhaven Hurricane Primer: Inundation And Evacuation

Ladies and gentleman, friends, Romans, countrymen, and children of all ages.... we proudly present to you the Fairhaven Hurricane Primer!

We're here today to tell you what parts of town will flood, how bad of a storm would be required to flood them out, and where the authorities will be evacuating people. This article will make you expert in all that stuff.

To be 100% cool, you want to either A) draw upon your knowledge, gained from you being in Fairhaven for a signature storm like Hurricane Bob, Hurricane Donna or even- if you're 0ld/old- the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, or B) talk to an old-timer who lives near you and has all that Bob/Carol knowledge down in his memory.

Local knowledge is immeasurably important. I study weather, I grew up on a Massachusetts beach, I live on a beach off Buzzards Bay now, I date a Fairhaven girl and visit her home beach once a season or so... and I still don't know Fairhaven in my bones. I have just this morning found out that I can't say the word "Fairhaven" properly. I say "Fair-haven," which audibly makes two words of it. My girlfriend, who grew up on West Island, says "Fa'haven," which is somehow less than one word.

I have a lot of scientific knowledge, and I have some informative maps to share... but in the end, you don't want to finalize your plans before you talk to a wise old local.

This map is what they (FEMA, MEMA, NOAA and NHC) call a Hurricane Inundation Map. It projects where the storm surge will go, and what intensity of storm would be needed to reach certain areas. They are based on the aptly-titled SLOSH model of inundation forecasting.

Storm surge, as you know, is the water pushed ashore as a big storm hits. It is the big killer in hurricanes, and even in history. The worst disaster related to lives lost in US history wasn't terrorists with planes or an earthquake, it was the storm surge associated with the 1900 Galveston hurricane.

OK, I think Antietam has it beat, but I digress...

Storm surge can also be called a Deathflood or Liquid Misery if that gets your people moving quicker. Either way, it's what those colors on the map above are showing. The differences in color depict where a more powerful storm (power = Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale) would be required to inundate an area.

The maps depict a direct hit from a hurricane at mean high tide. They do not and I repeat NOT account for freshwater flooding, river swelling, sewers overflowing, and 7 inches of rain.

Your colors:

Light green = Category 1 storm. Hurricane Gloria would be a good example of a Cat 1. If you worked your way over to Fairhaven from the South Shore, the Halloween Gale would be a good example of a strong Category 1.

Darker green = Category 2. Hurricane Bob was a moderate Category 2 hurricane ("moderate" and "Category 2 hurricane" are tough words to string together, but that's how they roll at the NWS) upon landfall in Rhode Island.

Yellow = Category 3. Only 5 storms of this intensity have struck New England since the Other Man arrived in the 1600s. The most recent was Hurricane Carol in 1954.

Red = Category 4. We've had one storm of that intensity, the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635.

Flesh = 100 year FEMA estimates. I presume this is the "100 year storm" that you hear about, and we haven't had one in modern (read: "white guy") history. "Flesh" is my non-artist word for that color, and is drawn from my Crayola days, before Crayola realized that black kids liked to color, too. It may be "apricot" or "off-whitey" these days, I'm not 100% sure.

Inundation-wise, Fairhaven is indeed A Tale Of Two Cities (and a few island/peninsula things). You have the area by the Acushnet River. This would normally be a death zone, but they built a hurricane barrier (seen, from what I hope you notice is the Fairhaven side, in the picture at the beginning of the article) at the river's mouth. That protects everything behind it from anything other than a biblical, build-an-ark style flood. We may be wrong, but SLOSH says that only a Cat. 4 storm can get past it.

A storm in the Cat. 4 range wouldn't flood a large % of Fairhaven, but it would flood the area where most everyone in Fairhaven lives. That means we're evacuating about 15,000 souls. We'll get to that in a minute.

The other part of Fairhaven, which is a nice way of saying "the part without the 20 foot stone wall built in front of it," doesn't have it so good. They'll be hurtin' for certain in smaller storms. You can check your own neighborhood (or laugh at the suckers in other neighborhoods) by viewing the links I'll plop down somewhere in this article.

A pretty bad place to be in a storm would be West Island and/or anything off Sconticut Neck Road. The swampy parts go under right away, and an intense storm would start taking houses. A storm of Bob size floods almost 75-90% of these land masses.

If you live on West Island, you want to do this:

- Go find a topographical map, or zoom in really close on the FEMA map.

- Figure out who lives on the highest ground.

- Befriend that person, and butter them up like a biscuit. You want him saying "Come on in" when you show up at his house in a tempest.

- Have an evacuation plan that not only includes "get to the town-designated shelter," but also "get to High Ground Guy's house." If the only road out gets cut off, he may be your best bet.

A few other things stand out when you look at this map.

For starters, a storm of Bob's strength would cross over Route 6 right about where the Stop 'n' Shop is. A storm of Katrina strength would put most of Route 195 by the Acushnet River underwater. Weaker storms would flood Route 6 and Route 195 in Mattapoisett, in case if you decided to think outside of the box and flee East.

West Island is actually East of everything. I'd ask Jessica about this, but she's at work. Keep in mind, I thought that Fairhaven was where Popeye lived until I opened the Wikipedia. Either way, be off of West Island if a storm comes... even a small one.

If you live in the White section of town (hurricane maps are egalitarian, and I have discovered that "white" sections of town are often poorer, while "colored" sections of the map are usually inhabited by wealthier, less swarthy waterfront home-having people), you might think you're off the hook. Remember that these maps only show storm surge, not freshwater or river flooding... and also remember that trees tend to blow over during storms.

In an Andrew-style storm, every single road leading out of Fairhaven would be compromised to some extent. Even the side streets will be under. That means you can't get out, and it means that help can't get in.

You want to be Ghost before then, which leads to our next map:

This is an Evacuation Map. It is what the authorities will use to decide who has to stay and who has to go. You don't HAVE to go, but you also don't want to rely on the cop you were just reading the Constitution to risking his neck to pull you out of the maelstrom.

The map is easier to read than the Inundation map. On this map, Red means "they have to leave," and yellow means "you have to leave, too."

This is the cell phone version of the map, you can zoom in for much better detail using the map on MEMA's page.

Route 240 looks like a good evacuation route, even though you'd eventually get pinned in a bad enough storm.

If you live in Fairhaven or if you plan to vacation there, you should have at least the bones of an evacuation plan in place. Fairhaven, unlike other towns we cover, stands in line for a possible direct hit from a hurricane that approaches New England.

We want you alive. We want you alive for selfish reasons, as- if you are reading this and may return- you are our source of revenue. We want you alive for professional reasons, i.e. "If they listened to us, they'd be alive." We also want you alive for homeboy reasons, as one of the founders of this website is a Fairhaven girl, and we consider Fairhaven to be our spiritual South Coast road office. We also want you alive for regular, kind person reasons.

Hurricane Inundation Maps

Evacuation Maps

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wal-Mart Departure = Deathblow For East Wareham?

In this town, on this day, the Wal Mart has giveth, and taketh away....
A seismic shift in Warehm's economic existence is going down today, as the Wal-Mart on the Cranberry Highway closes her doors for good. They are moving their operations into West Wareham.

Their lease in East Wareham wouldn't let them sell groceries, and the new store will be right where 28/25/6/495/195 converge. People like to beat up Wally, myself included, but you can understand their motivation here.

This is a massive change to the face of the town. East Wareham loses her Boss business, and the effects will reach far beyond the 4 walls of the store.

West Wareham, which as a backwater until recently, got Wareham Crossng in 2007. That, and this Wal-Mart, killed off 350 acres of forest. It turned a rural area into a traffic destination. There are those who say that one of the Walton heirs personally came to Wareham and stomped all of the Eastern Box Turtles on the property to death.

The Weweantic River, which feeds off the streams near Wally, is said to be less than pleased with the Walton's arrival. She may be a new channel to dump more nitrogen into Buzzards Bay, and doom what is left of our shellfishing.

The Crossing radically changed West Wareham, and the Wally will change it more.

Wally will also change East Wareham, his former home. Wally is leaving a plaza that has already lost Staples, TJ Maxx, and Friendly's... each of whom (I'm not 100% sure about the Friendly's, and Jessica is over there doing the pics as I write this) moved to the more-happening West Wareham area.

Not many businesses of any power are now on the Cranberry Highway in East Wareham. The biggest business there which isn't serving food or pouring gasoline is either Benny's or Sullivan Tire. Ooops, I almost forgot Home Depot... although I wonder how long they plan to stay there?

Can you really anchor a business district around what is left in East Wareham these days? I do wonder if the region will be able to support the Fast Food Fab Five (McDonald's, Burger King, KFC/Taco Bell, Wendy's and Subway) without both the WalMart customers and her employees. I'll be less than pleased if I have to go to Exit 6 in Plymouth to get Papa Gino's pizza, I'll tell you that much.

Fortunately, because there's a Dunkin' Donuts every 200 yards, the coffee people will be OK.

When the foodies leave, that's when you can start digging the grave. That chops the low-level jobs from the region by the dozens, Those businesses tend to anchor themselves around the big business in the area, and they won't survive picking off the few people who need to go to Benny's.

Stop n Shop now anchors the plaza that Wally used to own, with help from Radio Shack, Delken's Laundry, the Dollar Store, ProCuts and a nail joint. Throw in a few banks and some squalid motels, and that's the backbone of the business district.

This section of town is doomed... and it has been in the spiral since 1987. That was when Route 25 was expanded to the Bourne Bridge, which took all of the tourist money away. That killed the dog, although the tail was wagging until Wally hauled up stakes for the other side of the tracks. Expect no help from the government. Our fair Gateway has been the neglected stepchild of Cape Cod for decades.

The bad part is that, on the surface, this looks like a positive. Wareham just shifted their Wally a few miles down the road, so only the poorest motel-living people will lose access to Wally's Asian-crafted goodies. Rather than killing jobs, the move up to Super status created 85 paying gigs for people in a pretty poor town. Traffic congestion is East Wareham should be lightened considerably.

The worst part is when you think about it deeper than that. There is no silver lining... that's just how the edge of the blade looks when your section of town is on the chopping block.

I have a few ideas as to what to do with the old Wally building, but that will be for a future article. I still need to find an Asian kid to pose for my Jade/Helm occupying UN/Chinese soldier photos.

In the meantime, I look at East Wareham and just shudder. There's a bad moon on the rise.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

West Wareham Wal Mart Opens Today

I doubt that Jessica was aiming for irony with her camera, but she found some.

The West Wareham Wal Mart Supercenter opened today. It replaced the Wal-Mart in East Wareham.

The big difference is that this is a Super Wal-Mart, which means that they have a supermarket.

As you can see, no expenses were spared to welcome the shoppers to the new Wally.

There are some pros and cons. It's not a 24 hour Wally, which is bad news for journalists who might be nocturnal. They have the same Subway franchise as the other Wally did, with the same people running it. There isn't a bank in it.

They do have a nice grocery section, and it's a brand new building. The grocery section is bigger than the old Wareham location, but not as big as the one n Plymouth. You can drop right off 195 or 25 onto it.

There aren't any bells and whistles, it's a Wal-Mart. You'd like to think that new ones would be spectacular, but they pretty much have about 5-20 blueprints they break out depending on how big the town is, or how close to the highway the store is.

Nothing against my girl Red, however... she's puttin' in work.

Nothing says "Patriot" like a 100% Made In China tailgate zone. Winner of the 2015 "Most Ominous Use Of Scarecrows" award at Cannes.

Wally was giving out some free stuff, and they had vendors all over the place. Do note the Wareham school colors on that cupcake, homie!

If you hug it, it gives you a free drink. When I dry-humped it, it had the nerve to give me a Coke Zero. It'll be amazed when I don't call, too...
"Rotting meat on stale bread, prepared by savages"... Jim Norton, on Subway

All this and more awaits you at the West Wareham Super Walmart Supercenter!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Duxbury Signs Of Historic Importance

We thought we'd dig into the personal gear to share out a few important signs with interesting, Duxbury-themed stories.
There's a reason that Jessica takes all the pictures for this magazine. Stephen, as you can see, has what we shall most charitably call a "blurry camera eye."
This first sign is from Duxbury's shipbuilding days. That's pretty remarkable right there. Even I have no idea how old it is. My parents may have had some expert take a look and tell us, but they died before telling me. My interest in History came about later in life. When my parents were living, I was mostly into gettin' high, gettin' fly and gettin' thigh.

However, the reason I'm bothering you with this is the story behind how we came to own it.

My father was an investor, and he came to own an interest in an abandoned property in Charleston, South Carolina. He eventually opened a nightclub in the spot, but he had to clean out the building first. Inside the corner office of whoever was running whatever was being run there, he found a sign under some drapes.


A guy from Duxbury Beach bought a Carolina property, and the property inexplicably had a Duxbury sign. That's cool standing alone, but it gets cooler when you think about it a bit.

Charleston, SC was where the Civil War started. They were the first Americans to fire upon Old Glory. Regardless of what some States Rights people will tell you, the Civil War was about slavery, and the people hollering the loudest about Abolition were from Massachusetts.

As my family came to understand while running businesses in the South, they don't like Yankees that much, and that was in 1983 or so. You can bet that they REALLY didn't like Yankees back in 1865, when the 54th Massachusetts regiment very blackly marched into the city as conquerors.

You can get punched in the face in Boston for wearing a Yankees shirt... I wonder how your tavern would do in postbellum, defeated, shamed South Carolina while proudly displaying a Massachusetts sign? You could put it right next to your General Sherman statue.

There's only one way you could own that sign in South Carolina and not get your hat handed to you... the sign would have to be a Trophy. 

Confederate raiders like the CSS Alabama took a lot of prizes, and Duxbury was cranking out ships during this time. A better historian than myself could narrow it down to the exact ship, but it is very likely that someone took a ship which had somehow came to own this sign. Ownership of the sign went to whoever owned 4 Vendue Range, which is right on the harbor in Charleston.

It might have been innocent- the guy in Carolina may have owned the shipyard in Duxbury, for all I know. However, I like to think that my Dad used his wealth to walk into South Carolina and erase Duxburys illicit trade deficit with the traitorous Palmetto State rascals. 

That sign is back in Duxbury, now, and Duxbury is where it's staying.

"Unless you've got one of these, you're playing catch-up ball, no matter what you tell yourself."
Ric Flair

The sign above dates back to the late 1970s. It was made out of Duxbury wood, hewn from an ancient tree (one of her acorns later grew to be Duxbury's infamous Tree Of Knowledge) that was chopped down for the shipbuilding industry. The ship carrying this invaluable timber sank in Duxbury Bay, and the wood rested in the cold water, perfectly preserved, for 300 years.

It was discovered by treasure hunters in the 1970s, and sold to the Stradivari family, who made violins out of almost all of it. One piece of this wood stayed in Duxbury, however, when a guy who may have owned an interest in a Nevada sign company kinda-sorta was around when the priceless timber had an axcident. It is said that this sign-maker had to hire legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan VII to hack the wood apart with a diamond axe.

The cost was worth it, though. This wood was petrified when Myles Standish was Meters Standish. It can be shot from a meter away with an M-1 carbine to no effect. It somehow can eat termites. Wielded in battle, it grants the bearer invulnerability, while concurrently allowing him or her (the sign is very egalitarian) to swing fast and bust ass like they were Steven Seagull.

More importantly, it is seen around Duxbury Beach as a symbol of rightful sovereignty. Whoever owns the sign is the just and rightful Mayor of Duxbury Beach, very much like how the English crown rests on the head of whoever wields Excalibur. This is very important in a village which threatens secession now and then.

Possession of this sign grants the Mayor several beach-specific powers, many of which are ceremonial or rarely/never enforced. The Mayor can perform marriages on Duxbury Beach, although there is a Droit De Cuissage obligation on the table if times are tight for the Mayor's game. The Mayor can declare war, but only on terrorists, Saquish, Green Harbor, Brant Rock, Cedar Crest and the town of Duxbury.

The Mayor can also collect taxes, as possession of the sign made Gurnet Road area residents free from taxation. However, so as not to deprive the citizens of Duxbury Proper of necessary funds, the Mayor rules from his/her own pocket, and sends the tax revenue across Duxbury Bay. "Render unto Duxbury that which is Duxbury's," said Mayor Stephen Bowden in 1986.

This was a lucky break for Duxbury Proper, as Duxbury Beach is- to my knowledge- the one village in the United States to have independent possession of a nuclear weapon. Duxbury Beach may or may not have acquired a M20 submarine-launched ballistic missile from a French double agent after the highly classified off-Duxbury sinking of the French Navy's Redoubtable-class submarine L'Imbecile in 1988.

I'm not gonna give away any military secrets in here, but they say that you don't want to light a smoke within 70 km of the house which stands where the old Gurnet Inn used to be. We'd be on some Sum Of All Fears ish there, playboy.

The sign, much like the sign at the Tree Of Knowledge in Duxbury, is said to carry a prohibitive curse. The TOK's curse involves the sign falling into disrepair- they say that when the storms or the plows knock over the TOK sign, the locals run out and fix it themselves. If they don't, great misfortune will come to Duxbury.

The sign we own that gives us hereditary Mayoral powers carries a different sort of curse. It can not leave Duxbury. It can only leave Duxbury Beach for educational reasons, or if the Mayor feels like taking it somewhere. There are those who say that the launch codes for the M20 are carved in Navajo Braille into the sign, while others say that only the sign's magic is preventing a Storm Of The Century scenario. There's even a Nostradamus quatrain about it, although the reference is heavily-veiled and shrouded in symbolism.

Either way, the sign stays where it is... and it was Good.

Dartmouth Hurricane Information: Inundation and Evacuaton

"It's so cold in the D..."

Our continuing series on hurricane safety takes us today to the lovely town of Dartmouth.

Dartmouth is very large for a small town. They have 34,000 people, although that number is skewered by college students and summer people. Only a few, like God, Santa, and the fire chief, truly know how many people are in Dartmouth at any given moment. Only Plymouth and Middleboro have more land.

Dartmouth itself is divided between two general areas- North and South Dartmouth- and those two areas are divided into five villages or so. Once you get into the nuances and differences between Hixville (should really be more rural), Bliss Corner (should be nowhere but wherever UMD girls go to strip), and Padanaram (which sounds like a Euro death metal band name or perhaps even a level of Hell, but is actually a gorgeous, affluent area), ol' Steve taps out and admits that he's from Duxbury Beach.

Shoot, we're just hyper-analyzing aerial maps, and you really don't want to finalize your plans unless you wield great local knowledge (by "great," I mean "has been through several major storms in your area") or have spoken at length with a neighborhood old-timer. Locals know lots of stuff that pros don't, extra-especially neighborhood specific stuff. I'm just a NWS spotter with a web site, your neighborhood has old people who know more than I do, merely by experience.

But I am good for something, and that something is providing you with maps that contain important hurricane information that is specific to Dartmouth. You can review these maps right down to your very house, which is why I'm so cavalier when writing about towns I don't live in. Anything I don't know, you can figure out yourself by zooming in.

The map at the top of the page is a Hurricane Inundation map, and it basically tells you where the ocean will flood in a direct-hit hurricane striking at mean high tide. It is color-coded, with the colors showing the minimal storm intensity level (Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, i.e. Category 1-5) that would flood a particular area.

Light green = Category 1... Hurricane Belle or Gloria were Category 1 affairs. If you washashored into Dartmouth from the South Shore, the Halloween Gale would be a good, strong Cat. 1.

Darker green = Category 2... Hurricane Bob was a strong 2, maybe a mild 3. Yes, I know that "mild" is a strange term to use before "Category 3 hurricane," but that's how we roll here in Cranberry County.

Yellow = Category 3.... you're talking historic doom here. Only 5 storms of this power have hit New England. You most likely know someone who was here for Donna (1960) and may even find a geezer who was around for The Great New England Hurricane (aka The Long Island Express, 1938). You want to talk to these people before they die, and vampire their wisdom for yourself.

Red = Category 4... You don't have to worry about this one, because if anything of this Katrina-level power is heading your way, you should be ghost... all the way to a Vermont hotel.

"Flesh" = 100 year storm, which should be a 500 year storm, seeing as we've had 500 years pass without one. I don't know what color to use for that, I went with the Crayola 1973 color name that came to mind. Call it "apricot" or even "off-whitey" if you like.

Pretty-please take note that this map is for seawater inundation, and does not include freshwater events like river flooding, sewer overflow, and heavy rainfall. You could drown 15 miles inland if the dice come up snake-eyes during a hurricane, and your surviving family would be wrong if they blamed Mother Ocean for it.

Dartmouth offers 31 flavors of Doom in a hurricane, and you could get your wig split by falling branches, lightning strikes, downed power lines, looters, sinkholes, sharknadoes, the National Guard, and divine retribution. We're just going to focus on seawater inundation and evacuation.

Speaking of evacuation...

Cell-phone map, player... the one in the links is better.

This map is easier to read. It has two levels of severity. Red means "these people have to go," and Yellow means "you also have to go."

I apologize for the scale. I'll throw some links at the end of the article for people who want to zoom in on Russells Mills or Pandemonium or wherever.

As you can see, 99.9% of the town will not require evacuation. However, many heads can be found in those colored areas (in this scenario, the rich white people with waterfront homes are the colored ones), and they should think about galloping the fudge out of town. A hurricane that is sizing up Dartmouth will be flying up at her unimpeded, and the collision will be historic.

Even if you live in a white neighborhood in the inundation map, you should consider fleeing. New England does not lack for trees, and it only takes one to make you a homeless person with a yard full of live, downed wires. It can be tough to get to/into a shelter once you realize that you'll need one.

Likewise, these evacuation zones are what the police will be working with in their storm planning. You don't HAVE to leave if the evacuation order is given, but you don't want to be relying on the 5-0 guy you read the Constitution to before the storm being the one who has to pull you out of the maelstrom once Mother Nature starts playing for blood.

Notice that Route 195 will be underwater in some spots during minor hurricanes, and will be a series of islands in a larger one. They kinda cut that ish close to the coast, especially in Nastypoisett.

Anyhow, that's the storm information I have. Learn it, know it, live it. I want you alive. My revenue stream is such that I can't afford to have any of my readers perish. I also have a soft sport for Dartmouth... UMD was one of the few schools to accept your author when he came out of high school. I got nothing but love for you.  "I advocate hanging on as long as possible..."

Hurricane Inundation Zone maps... from FEMA, MEMA, NWS, and NHC.... and ME. Zoom in on your neighborhood. Do some disaster porn! Speculate on the fate of people in other towns who you hate! Hours of weather-geeking fun!

Evacuaton Zone maps... make sure you don't evacuate into an area that is colored more harshly than yours, people.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beach Management In Plymouth

Time and Tide wait for no man, and the feeling is mutual.
Beaches are not permanent things. Waves, wind and rain erode beaches, and shifting sands go where they may. It's how the world works, and how it worked for a long, long time before man arrived and started building along the coasts.
This natural order of things is all good, as long as you don't mind the fact that Monument Beach may become Monument Harbor some day. Oceans have a way of asserting themselves, and care little for these maps that men draw.
Of course, this natural order of things sometimes gets in the way of important things like Waterfront Development and Beach Access, which is where we'll be going in today's column.
You're looking at Cedarville, which is a better-sounding name than the more fitting "Wicked Big Dune." Cedarville is where you end up if you walk North out of Sagamore Beach. Their coastline is defined by giant, fragile sand cliffs.
Sand cliffs are very vulnerable to erosion, especially if they have no vegetation. You can pretty much see how it works just looking at the picture above. Rain and gravity move the sand from top to bottom, and the ocean washes the sand down the beach.
Much of the Massachusetts coastline is built that way. Scituate also has sand cliffs, and the erosion of these cliffs nourishes beaches south of Scituate in Marshfield and Duxbury. Saquish and her sand cliffs replenish beach sand in northern Plymouth, while sand cliffs in Manomet handle southern Plymouth.
Cedarville's job is to hook up Sagamore Beach, Scusset Beach, and Town Neck Beach. Cedarville's sand cliffs meet up with Sagamore Beach's sand cliffs, as you can see in the picture below. The flow of sand tends to be, as directed by the ocean's forces, north to south. The coastline south of this picture depends on these cliffs for their sand, lest the (present) coastline gradually erode away.
Sagamore Highlands has their own seawall battle going, and we'll write about that in a few days. I felt that you needed to know about the Dune Tram (see the video at the end of the article) more immediately.
Shifting sands are all well and good, unless you own a little cottage on top of those sand dunes.
Very few people say "Hmmmm.... I think I'll build my house directly on the lip of this 150 foot free fall." However, they didn't understand how Erosion works, or they underestimated how quickly it happens in the great scheme of things. That's how you get a house with Potential Energy that very much resembles a cottage version of Lindsey Vonn about to bust out of the gate and ski downhill.
Maybe the builders knew about erosion, but counted on it not being a problem in their lifetimes. I always think of Henry Beston when pondering this. His famous "Outermost House" was eventually pulled into the sea in the Blizzard of '78, but I assume that Henry Beston was long dead when that happened. Whatever design and location flaws the Outermost House may have had, it lasted long enough for him.
To avoid a Bestoning of your beach house, you need to put in some work. This generally involves building a seawall. A thick concrete wall running miles along the coast is more of a job for the US Army Corps of Engineers than one for a scrappy homeowner, but other options are available.... and necessary, as the US and Massachusetts governments seem to have given up on Cedarville.
In fact, looking at those cliffs, the government would have to build one of those 20 story World War Z-style Jerusalem walls, which would be a pretty expensive and exclusive job considering that it would benefit about 10-30 homes. Cedarville residents are on their own.
The home in the pictures above and below went for the Lobster Pot approach. The homeowner wraps scores of stones in metal netting, and uses it to build a base at the bottom of his cliff. The netting keeps the stones from being washed away one at a time in large storms. The stones, in theory, keep the cliff from washing away.
It works better if your next-door neighbor builds one as well, but you can't win 'em all, folks.
Here's a close-up.
There's a Rock Lobster joke lurking in the picture above, but even I won't hack away at that level.
You can also use this sort of pantyhose-style sand condom thing that the guy in the picture below favors. He looks like he may need to make it a bit higher, but what do I know?
I do wonder if there are laws against using beach sand for that purpose. I don't want to hassle the homeowner, as he has enough problems. I suppose that he may even be helping the beach, or at least the cliff.
I just think it's funny that a guy who lives on a giant sand dune which overlooks a sandy beach might have to import sand. 
Keeping the sand from washing downhill is just part of the problem. You also have to keep it from washing downstream, or whatever you call "downstream" with oceans.
This is where the Groin comes in. Yes, it's a silly name, one which the actual English English-speakers get around by using the more Olde English-looking groyne.
As near as I can tell (and I'm working from Word with no Internet connection, so we're doing very little research), the difference between a groyne and a jetty is that a jetty is at least partially in the water all the time, ideally to protect a channel or harbor entrance. A groyne is there to keep your sand from becoming Sagamore Beach's sand, and is mostly on land at low tide.
While they are more angry at the Scusset Beach jetty that is the north end of the Cape Cod Canal, this groyne is one of the things that the Trustees Of Sandwich Beaches people are all upset about. Every grain of sand that the groyne prevents from moving south is a little bit of Sandwich eroding into the sea, kinda/sorta. If you are ever driving on Route 6A in the future and a wave washes under your car, you're going to have to learn some Olde English if you want to place the blame properly.
This groyne is on the beach in front of (and preserving) the 18th Hole on the golf course at the White Cliffs Country Club. The hole is on top of a dune, as they haven't invented Beach Golf yet. The groyne was built in 2008, after some legal wrangling. WCCC would be a 17 hole golf course in a few years if they didn't have several groynes.
WCCC is one of my chill spots, as they have a lovely little private beach that, because of the 175 foot dunes, very few people use. They are taking steps to fix that, as many of their tenants and members are elderly.
Below, peep the photos and video of the brand spankin' new Dune Tram.
We were talking to a guy who bought one of the first units made available at White Cliffs, back in 1986. One of the reasons he bought the place was that the WCCC was promising a Tram to the beach. 28 years later (sounds like a Zombie film sequel, no?), WCCC finally came correct.
They utilized a firm called Marine Systems Incorporated (from friggin' Minnesota, of all places) to design the Tram, which was built by a Massachusetts-licensed elevator company called Above & Beyond. The tram operator had no cost figures when I asked her (and I have no intention of wasting a late summer morning attending the WCCC Tram Media Day tomorrow), but the cost I kept hearing for the Tram was six figures.
The Tram is the only one of her kind in New England, at least to my knowledge.
Like you even have to ask if we tested it out.....
It's the size of an industrial elevator, which I suppose is a good thing, because it is an industrial elevator. It is sort of set up like a ski lift, but you stand in an elevator car. It goes about one mile an hour or so. You'd beat it to the beach if you were walking downhill, and it would beat you to the crest if you were walking uphill.
The Tram runs 175 feet, and it is just what you want to see coming for you when Option B is walking up 15 stories worth of stairs after a long, arduous day of Beach. I'm told that the poles were hammered 25 feet deep into the dune. The ride is very smooth.
Added bonus? It's elevated, so vegetation can still grow in her footprint. The Tram is only a month old, and there's already some Beach Fuzz growing under it.
There is an attendant who runs the Tram, and a position of "Tram Operator" was being advertised for on the WCCC website. I may take that job myself next summer. No, they don't play elevator music.
However, "Dune Tram To The Groin" would make a good Dancehall song title... but they'd have to go to a coastal country club in Plymouth to film the video, and that would cost them a breathtaking amount of street credibility.
Check out the...

Dune Tram video.

You know you want one of these Dune Trams, so stop acting like you don't. You aren't fooling anyone.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Plymouth Hurricane Primer: Inundation and Evacuation In America's Hometown

Plymouth doesn't have the coastal flooding problems that towns like Duxbury have, which is amazing, because Plymouth has as much coastline as Scituate, Marshfield and Cohasset combined.

Plymouth floods, no doubt. If you've ever been in Bert's, and wondered why the big boulder was displayed inside.... the Blizzard of '78 put it there. A trip to Cedarville will show you several houses which are one storm away from a straw/camel's back scenario involving the seaside cliffs they rest on. Plymouth was also Ground Zero for the worst hurricane seen in New England by the palefaces, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Plymouth gets mad hurricane Disrespeck for several reasons. One, it is blocked by several barrier beaches, which range from as small as Long Beach to as large as Cape Cod. E/NE winds that push storm unimpeded waves across the mid-Atlantic towards towns like Scituate and Duxbury find a Cape Cod-sized roadblock when aiming at Plymouth.

The Cape, an dat ol' sketchy South Coast, also protect Plymouth from direct hit hurricane shots. Any storm that hits Plymouth has hit New Bedford or Wareham first, and those towns absorb a lot of the initial shock. I watched Hurricane Bob- which tore Cape Cod to shreds- from nearby Duxbury Beach, and the waves didn't even hit the seawall.

Plymouth has a wide variety of coastline designs, or whatever God calls it when He makes Ellisville different from Cedarville. You can park 100 feet from the shore at Bert's and have a wave break over your car. You're a few feet higher off the beach over by Issac's, and you're 8 stories above the waves at the same 33 yard distance if you are working the 18th hole at White Cliffs Country Club.

Plymouth also elevates rather quickly from the shoreline, so the ocean is unable to push that far inland, even with Katrina-style winds blowing behind it. That means very little to you if you live on Water Street, but it is why you don't see flooding miles inland like you do with Duxbury and Marshfield. This is also influenced by the heavily-wooded nature of Plymouth, as opposed to the just-add-ocean marshes in the Floodier towns to the north.

We have two maps for you to look over. The one at the top of the page is a Hurricane Inundation Map. That shows you what parts of Plymouth would flood in what intensity of hurricane. The people who make these maps (a group effort by FEMA, MEMA, NOAA and the NHC) are assuming a worst case, direct-hit scenario with full hurricane conditions striking at mean high tide.

The map DOES NOT account for freshwater, inland flooding. You're on your own there, homie... although you'd want to know how far you are from any river, and the relative elevation of your house. Shoot, 7 inches of rain will sweep some roads away, so be prepared.

The colors of the Inundation map work like this.... light green = Category 1, darker green = Category 2, yellow = Category 3 and red = Category 4. Plymouth has not had direct Category 4 hurricane conditions since the Pilgrims showed up. FEMA even takes a 100 Year Flood estimate for extreme scenarios, which is represented by the color Crayola used to call "flesh" until they realized that minority kids also like to color. I think it's called "Off Whitey" now.

Due to Plymouth's large size, it can be hard to distinguish some of the colors with the picture I have for you. You can solve that by going here. You can zoom in all you want from there.

The hardcore areas in town seem to be a Kingston border-to-Long Beach run. It's not so bad after that, as the hills of the coastline begin to assert themselves. You get some flat coastline- and a river mouth- right where the nuclear power station is. Pilgrim is in the Inundation zone, even for a moderate hurricane. It's odd using terms like "moderate" to describe something as ghastly as a hurricane, but this is how we do at the NWS.

If your street is any color but the white of the map background, you might want to start making plans on escaping. You might have to wait 50 years before you need to get Ghost, but it is better to have a plan and not need it than it is to need a plan and not have it.

Your plan would be influenced by the second map we have for you today, the Evacuation. Sounds biblical, no?

The proffered Evacution map is easier to follow. Red means "those people have to evacuate," and yellow means "so do you."

Plymouth takes her storm threats very seriously, and the police will be following this map as a guide for which streets and even which houses would be asked to leave when Mr. Hurricane comes knocking.

The immediate shoreline will be evacuated all through the town, even the cliffs areas. This is in effect even for a minimal huuricne. You don't have to leave if you don't want to, but you also don't want to be relying on the cop you told to f*ck off earlier to pull you out of the maelstrom. Irony and Karma both bite for the ass.

The bonus areas in Plymouth that might require inland evacuation are the Eel River area and Ellisville. You have to earn them with a higher-intensity storm, but the threat is real. Larger storms look to be a good bet to evacuate people out to 3A in White Horse Beach and all around the Eel River.

That's the cell phone version of the map, you can view the Evacuation map in more detail by clicking here.

Plymouth folk may have the tendency to disregard hurricane preparations, as they have large land masses taking the heavy shots for them. However, history paints such people as fools, because Harry Cane can f*ck you up smooth in Pilgrim Town. He has before.

Remember, we're only about 380 years removed from the Great Colonial Hurricane.That powerful 1635 storm dropped in unannounced on the Pilgrims, and blew down everything in sight. Experts say that it may have been the worst East Coast hurricane since European colonization, and hit Plymouth (after coming ashore along the CT/RI border) as a Category 3 monster. It may have been Category 5 further south of us.

A storm like that would be bad, bad news for Plymouth, and that would be BEFORE we factored in the inundated nuclear power plant.

Keep your head up, people. This magazine relies heavily on your site visits, and my lifestyle can not afford to have Plymouth residents dying en masse. We've got nothing but love for you.

Saquish, pictured in the background below, would be an island in a hurricane. Rotten last paragraph, I know, but I like to end articles with nature shots.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Between Two Bridges: Wendy Northcross

Talking Bridges With The CCC CEO
Wendy Northcross is the CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber Of Commerce. She's been down with COC since 1997, and has been running the ship for some time now. She is on the board of so many things that I don't even feel like listing them all, but some of the better ones include the JFK Museum and the Cooperative Bank Of Cape Cod.
She is one of the state and maybe the country's better tourism experts, and she wields a lot of power. If you're a little girl and still think women can only be nurses and Mashpee Ballet dancers, check out the swagger that Ms. Northcross carries around Cape Cod. When she speaks, heads turn.
Speaking of which....
She is also one of the weightier voices calling for a third bridge. That bridge may be a toll bridge. The good news is that it may ease traffic a bit. The bad news is that you'll be paying for it every time you drive across the bridge for the rest of eternity.
I sent Wendy a list of questions in the email, and she was cool enough to get them back to me in the same day. If you are upset about me not challenging her on certain points, hate the game and not the player.
Her answers are exactly as she mailed them to me, and were not altered. I switched the question order around on publishing to line up certain pictures I have.
Here we go:
Jessica Allen: Tell us about the plans being discussed about building a third bridge over the Cape Cod Canal.....
Wendy Northcross: Because of the condition of the 80 year old canal bridges, and the now chronic maintenance cycle we find ourselves facing almost annually, community and state officials began to ask about the true safety of the bridges and what was the future plan?
The responses to our questions were “there is no long range plan” – and “there are no government resources to do anything like a new bridge for at least 20 to 30 years or more.”
So the discussion turned to the questions “how long can we continue to depend upon the bridges to carry freight, and for us to safely traverse the canal - how long can Cape Codders continue to suffer significant travel delays during shoulder-season maintenance on the bridges?”
To that end, community leaders and state officials have had meaningful conversations with a broad base of businesses and residents about their tolerance level for the current state of the bridges vs. a plan for the future. Fortunately, we now have a plan that everyone can look at and decide if it holds merit. 

If we built a third bridge that was independent of the current bridges, what would it be named? 
I don’t know…. maybe “new bridge?”

Is there no other way to get this bridge built without a permatax on commuters? 
Government officials have indicated that there are no federal or state resources available to build any new crossing infrastructure for at least 20 to 30 years. The question is, how long do Cape Codders want to wait and what does waiting cost? 

- Why should Cape Codders who don't have yachts or LNG interests pay tolls for a bridge over a Canal that they don't want, need, or benefit from?
The current concept is that only users of the new bridge would pay – the Bourne Bridge would be available at no charge. I believe that most Cape Codders well understand the need for stable infrastructure over which their goods and services and customers can pass.

Should someone making $9 an hour who has to cross the bridge twice to get to and from his six hour shift be forced to give almost 20% of his day's pay to tolls? Will there be hardship exemptions to tolling?
The beauty of transponder technology is that high frequency users can be identified and calculated to pay at a different rate (or potentially no rate if they are an immediate neighbor). Remember, in this current concept, the Bourne Bridge – 2 miles up the road, remains free. 

- If we feel that many New Yorkers will balk at the prospect of paying a toll request from their Barnstable vacation the previous summer, and since we all know the tolls will never go away, at what point in history would the bridge be paid for solely by taxing tourists?
If a guest does not have the money to pay a toll, they are very unlikely to be visiting in the first place.

- In the event that the state says there are going to be temporary tolls and they instead make them permanent, can you get Randy Hunt or Bill Keating to insert some date or language into the bill now that allows us to sue the state to stop the tolls once the bridge is paid for?

The financial analysis will reveal the return on investment levels recommended to put this project out to a public/private partnership model of ownership.

Would a new bridge substantially decrease the time we'd need to evacuate Cape Cod in an emergency?
It should give us more options. 

Former clerk at the Market Basket playing urban planner here.... why not break off an off-ramp off of Route 25 at the Ingersoll Bend, while also breaking off an offramp from Route 3 through Bournedale.... both off-ramps form a "Y" and meet a new road, which feeds the third bridge, around Barlow's Clam Shack...... the third bridge enters the military reservation, where another Y breaks traffic onto Route 6 and Route 28 somewhere? Short of widening Routes 3, 6, 25, and 28, it seems like the only way to actually reduce traffic.

MA DOT traffic engineers, using the traffic counts on the key roads, and looking at land ownership vs. the cost of land takings, and using existing roadways versus building extensive new roadways laid out a variety of scenarios – and then estimated costs on all of them. And yes, some were very expensive without yielding larger increases in efficiency and safety. 

- If the short answer to the above question is "one billion dollars," the rebuttal is "We're going to have a permanent toll in place long after the bridge is paid for, why not build a hyper-expensive bridge that actually does lessen gridlock?" If it's going to cost me $10 a day in tolls to commute 2 miles to work for the rest of my life, I want to only know about gridlock in an abstract sense.
One of the questions you should have asked first is “what is the capacity of the roadway vs. the bridges?” The answer is that the bridges have much less capacity of cars per hour than the current road system, and if we give ourselves some shoulder room and separate the travel lanes – we’ll have a safer and more streamlined flow – reducing gridlock.
Fortunately for us, our state traffic engineers have found a scenario that bears further vetting based on creating safer and more efficient travel at a cost that bears consideration.

- I almost feel badly asking you this, but has anyone actually ever really seriously honestly looked into maybe building a tunnel? If so, roughly where were they thinking of putting it? Will permit decals be sold?
Yes – and we have been told and it is far more expensive. Although I do think most Cape Codders already have the decal!

If the villages of Bournedale, Sagamore Beach, and Buzzards Bay were to secede from both Bourne and Barnstable County, could we sue for a share of the loot from the toll bridge? We are the ones who do nearly 100% of the suffering with traffic, and we benefit the least from bridges.
I liken the bridge flow to a clot in a blood vessel. One small clot affects the entire human body. Our narrow bridges affect the entire Cape’s flow and thus its well being. 

- All of those bridges should be lit at night, like the Zakim Bridge. I'd do each one in a different color. What other vacation destination has THAT?
Nice idea.

How long can we expect the current bridges to hold up? Won't the twin bridge idea be a bit heavy for all that Great Depression concrete?
A new bridge would be (as currently proposed) about 15’ from the existing bridge on all new footings and made of materials that do not require painting. A new bridge could handle diverted traffic when we needed to fix the Sagamore – allowing the old bridge to be taken off-line for faster and deeper repairs.

Are there any plans to erase that ridiculous on-ramp merge at the Christmas Tree Shop?
With the proposed plan – this lane would get its own travel lane outbound over the old bridge. Between now and new bridge completion – there are some things we could try – but Bourne residents would need to be up for the experiment of restricting use of the onramp during a peak travel day. 

- Imagine that you can wipe away Main Street in Buzzards Bay... what would you lay down in place of it?
Main Street in Buzzards Bay has a great deal of character and potential opportunity as well as a bright future. I see a mix of uses with residential places within walking distance of shopping, work, recreation and access to rail.