Storm Causes Severe Erosion Along Mass. Coast

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The blizzard that struck Massachusetts brought short-term inconveniences like power outages and school cancellations, but also left long-term ramifications like severely eroded beaches and uninhabitable homes.

Many communities on Cape Cod are reporting that 15 to 20 feet of beach disappeared. The bluff coast — the 20 miles or so from Eastham to Truro with steep dunes soaring to 140 feet — suffered some of the most visible, and dangerous, erosion.

Some people say it's the worst they have seen.

"The town took quite a beating," Chris Miller, a natural resources director in Brewster, told The Boston Globe. He said the town's entire coastline experienced at least 15 feet of erosion, and the storm washed away dunes, twisted outdoor stairs from their bolts and devoured the foundations of three houses. Longtime residents "say they haven't seen anything like this," he said.

While most communities were still assessing damage and repair estimates are pending, state and local officials received reports of uninhabitable or washed away homes in Plymouth, Sandwich, Scituate and Hull.

North of Boston, homes on Plum Island cling precariously close to cliffs, while Salisbury beach suffered severe erosion, according to The Daily News of Newburyport.

Some are questioning whether it's worth rebuilding completely.

With climate change expected to bring more fierce storms, it may not make sense to rebuild completely, officials said.

"We want to make (places) whole again, but there may be opportunities for reducing risk in the future by eliminating seawalls ... buildings," said Bruce Carlisle, director of the state Coastal Zone Management office.

This program aired on February 13, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.