Duxbury Seawall Suffers Multiple Collapses

A bad situation got much, much worse in Duxbury as a series of nor’easter storm tides took down large portions of the seawall.

Now, a race against time is on, as the town scrambles to patch up the seawall before a new coastal storm goes all Johnstown Flood on the good people of Duxbury Beach.

Don’t expect federal help… President Trump, who has yet to declare Massachusetts as a disaster area, is only interested in one wall. Don’t expect Mexico to pay for the Duxbury wall, either…

This photo is from the Duxbury Fire Department, and the others are from Dan Rollins or Deborah Deady.

The seawall has been in place since 1954, when it replaced a wooden seawall put up (your author presumes) after the 1938 hurricane. You can see “TONY 9/4/54” carved into the wall near the Ocean Road North boat ramp opening. I have to ask Chrissy Carroll’s dad to find out exactly, as Duxbury’s historians care not a whit for the beach north of the bridge.

Most seawalls in Massachusetts were done before the 1950s, many in the 1930s as Great Depression busy work.

The wall was also a work of necessity, as Hurricanes Carol and Edna came in 1954.

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“They blew the horn, and the walls came down… they’d all been warned, but the walls came down…. they’d stood there laughing… they’re not laughing anymore… and the walls came down.”

The seawall is of vital importance to both the neighborhood and the town. They are the only protection Duxbury Beach gets from coastal storms.

If the wall goes, the village goes, and when the village goes, Duxbury’s tony Powder Point/King Caesar neighborhoods become the new barrier beach.

I don’t think that the people there will tolerate much of that.

The ground by the seawall used to be level with the path… now, notice how deep in the hole we find that cameraman.

“And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy
Banging your head against some mad bugger’s wall”

The town just came out on the short end of a Who Is Responsible For Seawall Repairs dispute with the neighborhood residents. They then did next to nothing, other than piling some boulders in front of the former Gurnet Inn.

Now, they pay for that laziness with some costly emergency repairs.

When the wall collapsed yesterday, local residents got their hands on a Bobcat and tried to fix the wall themselves.

The town stepped in, ordered the work stopped, and then…. did nothing decided to formulate a plan. They piled material at the end of a street, and plan to start Tuesday at 3 AM with the front end loaders.

Keep in mind, high tide is about 2:30 PM, and the waves are still fierce. Duxbury has already dumped a piece of heavy machinery into the bay by the bridge a few years ago, but that was child’s play compared to direct ocean.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that…. oh, never mind, nature beat you to it.”

These collapses were a shock to the experts, who recently declared the walls to be in very good shape. See here…

A storm is coming Wednesday. It won’t be like last weekend’s storm, but it will still be a nor’easter of Tropical Storm force.

That normally isn’t a problem, but “normally” involves having a seawall. Waves have great power, enough to smash four feet of concrete. Without the wall, that great power will be unleashed upon yards and- eventually- houses.

I shudder to think of what will happen.


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