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Mass. Coastal Communities Prepare For Irene03:28


Coastal communities in Massachusetts are finalizing their preparations for Hurricane Irene. People are doing more than just boarding up windows to get ready.

Betty Cheney shouts directions to her father, who's perched on top of the family boat which they're hauling out of Falmouth Harbor.

"If we're going to have really high winds, there could be a lot of damage done to the boat, if not destroy it completely. So we're having it pulled out and we're going to dry dock it on land someplace safe," Cheney says.

"Across the harbor, there are all of those large boats, probably 40 or 50 footers, all up on stands. And it's like that throughout the harbor, boats are taking over parking lots."

Kelcie Dunne, waterways assistant at Falmouth Harbormaster's office

Cheney is one of many boat owners up and down the coast scrambling to get their boats out of the water before Irene's arrival. Forecasters expect the storm to bring strong winds and surging waves that could cause significant damage.

"They're very busy hauling out boats left and right," says Kelcie Dunne, a waterways assistant at the Falmouth harbormaster's office.

The harbormaster has ordered all boats out of the slips the town owns. But Dunne notes even boats at private marinas are being moved to higher ground.

"As you can see, across the harbor, there are all of those large boats, probably 40 or 50 footers, all up on stands. And it's like that throughout the harbor, boats are taking over parking lots."

Harry Turner has just finished putting a boat in a parking lot. He owns Green Pond Marina in East Falmouth. Turner and his crew are sweating, having hauled at least 75 boats between 4 a.m. and late Friday afternoon.

"I got two trucks running steady," Turner says.

He charges $14 per foot of boat to haul it out of the water to a safer spot. And he has a long list of desperate boaters waiting.

"I got five more pages, 20 on a page. So I got plenty to do before Saturday night," he says.

About an hour away in the town of Marshfield, a different crew is also busy at work. But they're trying to save houses, not boats.

"There is an opening where the wall hasn't been completed. It's due to be completed a week from today, so the storm's coming a week early," says Marshfield Public Works Superintendent Tom Reynolds.

Reynolds says crews have been rushing to try and patch a hole in one of Marshfield's sea walls-- caused by a severe storm this past winter.

The workers have been rebuilding about 100 yards of wall per day for the past few weeks, and were very close to finishing. To patch the last section, huge cranes lift giant sheets of metal and hammer them into a long earthen mound.

Anthony and Sandra Primo hope all this will be enough to prevent the storm surge from rushing through the small remaining gap in the wall. Their house is behind that gap.

They just finished fixing up their ocean-view home from the major damage caused by January's storm.

The Primos are grateful to those outside trying to protect their house, where they've spent weekends and vacations for the past 30 years. They're being as positive as they can about the approaching storm.

"We'll take in as much and put it downstairs as we can or leave it in the house anyway. Lots of plants and stuff. And the worst that could happen is that it gets flooded and we have to get new furniture, just look at it that way, as long as no one gets hurt."

Like many other families in Massachusetts, the Primos are thinking about their priorities while they prepare for the worst.

This program aired on August 27, 2011.

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