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A lovely two-story cottage sits on Scituate's Oceanside Drive. The front has a painting of a mermaid standing atop a codfish and blowing a horn. The back overlooks the open Atlantic.
Monday morning it had no windows and no back wall.
"Oh yeah, this is what you call 'water view,'" said Mike Crowley, who was putting up boards where the sea smashed the picture windows. "We were here last night and the waves were coming in the living room."
Crowley and a co-worker were trying to stop the sea from further damaging the home.
"You've got to remember there was a 40- by 50-foot deck right here," Crowley said. "The deck got picked up and taken, so it went over the sea wall — as far as we know. We can't find it anywhere."
If the house hadn't been sitting atop six-foot concrete pilings, it would have been completely swept away, according to insurance adjuster Michael Woods.
He's comparing Sunday's nor'easter to the region's most notorious and infamous storms.
"I would say it was close to the '78 storm," Woods said.
That's the gold standard for measuring storms — that storm of '78. A lot of people in Scituate compared Sunday's one to that, and to the "No Name Storm" of 1991 — which destroyed the same Oceanside Drive house and brought an epic flood.
"You get a high tide, full moon, northeast storm, it's a disaster in this town. It's always been like that."Scituate resident Leslie Fields
On Oceanside Drive, trucks and front-end loaders cleared tons of sand that the sea carried over and through the wall. Amidst the flotsam of broken boards, stood Scituate storm veteran Leslie Fields.
"It's Mother Nature," Fields said. "You get a high tide, full moon, northeast storm, it's a disaster in this town. It's always been like that."
Several blocks inland, on Tenth Street, in the flats set back from the beach, you still needed a boat to cross the street. A couple stood hip-deep in salt water, raking debris from the surface so the flood waters could return to the sea.
Liz Botchie and her husband Bob pointed out an eddy where the floodwater whirled into a drain.
The Botchie's house rests on a ten-foot concrete foundation — their hot water tank and furnace are in the attic — and the Botchies, like other Scituate residents, say they have no desire to move away from the inevitable damage from the occasional big storms. They won't move out, they'll just move up onto higher stilts and pilings.
"Scituate is like the girl with curl," Bob Botchie said. "When it's bad, it's very very bad. But when it's nice, it's wonderful."
This program aired on December 29, 2010.
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