Waves churned up by a powerful winter storm crashed over sea walls along the Massachusetts coast, flooding streets and forcing some residents to hastily evacuate their oceanfront homes.
In Scituate, one flooded home caught fire and the flames spread to a second home. Firefighters rescued occupants and their pets by boat and no injuries were reported, said John Danehey, chairman of the town's board of selectmen.
The most severe damage came at high tide during the overnight hours. The National Weather Service said strong winds and 20- to 25-foot waves lashed the coastline.
"Obviously the tide came in pretty quickly. Shortly after the tide came in we declared a state of emergency in the town," Danehey said.
National Guardsmen assisted in the voluntary evacuation of about a dozen families, some of whom had to wade through several feet of water. A shelter was established at the town's high school.
Many people were without electricity and power lines downed by the storm added to the danger for those who remained in their homes, Danahey said. Residents were being warned to make preparations for the next high tide scheduled for late Monday afternoon, though as the storm began to dissipate there were indications it would not be as severe as the early morning tide.
"If they choose to stay, obviously we ask them not to be heroes, we ask them to be careful and now is the time to consider coming up to the high school for the shelter," he said.
Danehey said the flooding was the most severe he has seen in his 11 years as a Scituate resident and possibly the worst in the town since a severe coastal storm in the fall of 1991. At least one portion of the sea wall appeared to have been damaged.
Flooding was also reported in other coastal communities, including Rockport and Quincy.
In Quincy, waves crashed over sea walls on Sea Street and Quincy Shore Drive, leaving some residents with several feet of water in their basements, the Patriot-Ledger reported.
In Rockport, a seaside community on Cape Ann, some residents were voluntarily evacuated from Bearskin Neck, but the situation was under control, according to police officer Gregory George.
The storm knocked out phone service, including the 911 system, for a time in Hull, and police in Cohasset brought in extra dispatchers to cover the neighboring town.
This program aired on December 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.