Little Beach, Morris Island Hit Hard By Coastal Storm

By: Cape Cod Chronicle Staff

Topics: Storms

Police were stationed at Morris Island Road Friday morning due to continued flooding in the Little Beach area. TIM WOOD PHOTO

SEE A GALLERY OF STORM PHOTOS HERE.

Friday update:

The Little Beach and Morris Island areas were the focus of most emergencies during yesterday's storm.  As of Friday morning, the intersection of Morris Island Road and Starfish Lane remains flooded, cutting off most vehicular access to Little Beach, Morris and Stage Islands.  There was significant flooding of homes in the Little Beach area, and many homeowners evacuated after power to the area was cut due to the flooding.  This morning, the town's electrical inspector was going door to door to assess conditions.  Power remained out Friday morning; according to Eversource's outage map, 192 customers in Chatham did not have service.

"It's not just basements, it's houses," said Fire Chief Peter Connick.  His department helped evacuate residents using boats and emergency vehicles.

There was at least four feet of water in the Little Beach area during high tide Thursday.  It was so deep it covered fire hydrants; even Harwich's high-water truck couldn't get through.

Fire, police, DPW and harbor officials were meeting this morning to assess conditions.

"We got nailed," said Connick, adding he hasn't seen flooding of this magnitude in the Little Beach area in 20 years.

Meanwhile, it appeared as if the storm caused extensive erosion along the outer beach, especially in the Lighthouse Beach inlet area.  South Beach appeared to have been overwashed significantly, but whether there are any breaches has yet to be determined.

5:30 update:

Most closed roads have reopened.  Jacknife Harbor remains closed.

3:30 p.m. update:

Waters were beginning to recede after major flooding along Chatham's east coast.  At one point, numerous roads were impassable and Morris and Stage Islands were isolated.  Water rescue teams were brought in to evacuate some residents and contractors from the area. South Beach was still about two-thirds awash in the late afternoon. Flooding at Route 28 at Bay Road in East Harwich caused the highway to be shut down at the Muddy Creek Bridge on the Chatham side, but the road has since reopened.

Snow had not yet begun to fall on the Outer Cape, though temperatures were falling.  As of 3:30 p.m., 1,124 Eversource customers were reported without power in Harwich, with 226 customers in Orleans and 192 households in Chatham out.

1 p.m. update:

A fire department swift water rescue team was being deployed to the Little Beach-Morris Island Road area.

Early updates:

Snow had yet to fall by noon, but winds as high as 60 miles per hour and extreme tides sent water into the Little Beach area, flooding the intersection of Morris Island Road and Starfish Lane, cutting off access to Morris and Stage Islands as well as Little Beach. There was at least a foot and a half of fast-moving water at the intersection.  Residents were being warned to stay away from the area.

Officials were unable to reach a Little Beach home that was reportedly being flooded.  A skiff was being brought in so that rescue workers could reach the resident of the home.

Bridge Street at Stage Harbor Marine was also flooded by a foot of water, and severe flooding was also reported in North Chatham.  Power was shut off to the packing building at the fish pier after it was surrounded by water more than an hour before high tide. As of noon only a few power outages were reported in Chatham, Brewster and Eastham.

Inland areas of New England were experiencing a significant snowfall, while gusty winds were causing downed tree limbs on the Lower Cape as well as spotty power outages. A fallen tree briefly blocked Route 28 near Agway.  Forecasters say the rain will gradually turn to snow this afternoon, followed by dropping temperatures and freezing conditions.

 

The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm warning for the region, as well as a high wind warning and a coastal flood warning.  The Cape Cod Chronicle's weather station at Pleasant Bay Community Boating registered a gust of 47mph shortly before 9 a.m., when winds were still picking up.  Officials were watching the midday high tide for minor to moderate coastal flooding along east-facing beaches.  A 60mph gust was recorded at Chatham Airport. The National Weather Service reported a guest of 75mph was reported in Wellfleet.

In anticipation of the storm, town officials are warning citizens to be prepared and schools were canceled.  Harwich town facilities were closed Thursday because of the storm, and Orleans also closed North (Nauset) Beach to off-road vehicles in expectation of high tides and surf.  Chatham town offices were set to close at noon.

There have also been some cancellations from community groups like the Family Pantry of Cape Cod, which will keep its headquarters in Harwich closed Thursday, along with the Second Glance Thrift Shop.  To submit a storm cancellation, click here.

The threat of power outages comes not only from the high winds, but from a potential "flash freeze" of slush when the storm departs Thursday night.  Temperatures Friday will struggle to reach the upper teens.  Residents are asked to take steps to prepare for the storm, and to help family members or neighbors who might need assistance.