The remnant of hurricane Irene claimed a considerable chunk of Chappaquiddick real estate Sunday. Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservation (TTOR) superintendent, said crashing waves claimed a boardwalk and considerable beach.
TTOR owns or manages much of the ocean-facing beach from the left fork at South Beach to Cape Poge Gut and including county-owned Norton Point Beach. The popular Wasque Reservation on the southeast corner of Chappy is particularly exposed to erosion.
In April 2007, the one-two punch of crashing storm-driven ocean waves and powerful spring tides knocked open a breach in Norton Point Beach. Historically, such openings have occurred with some regularity in the two-mile-long barrier beach that separates relatively shallow and normally placid Katama Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.
As the opening has migrated east toward Chappaquiddick, the strong tidal flow between the bay and the ocean has led to dramatic erosion along the shoreline, spawned several sandbars, and accentuated the shifting currents associated with Wasque Point.
Until Sunday, a wooden boardwalk led from a parking lot to the point, a popular fishing area. Although all trails and beaches are now open, the storm left its mark.
In an email to The Times, Mr. Kennedy described the results.
“Wasque took a hit,” Mr. Kennedy said. “According to Bob Gilkes, who set out transects to measure anticipated erosion prior to the storm, we lost 22 feet of Wasque just to the east of the Wasque swimming beach. The parking lot was covered in sand, but parking is available at Wasque.”
Mr. Kennedy said the Swan Pond is gone, and Wasque Point is not currently accessible by over-sand vehicles “as the beach was stripped away.”
“Over-sand vehicles,” he said, “can get as far south on Leland Beach as the Schifter house, but the shoreline now ends up against a dune. Wasque Point can be accessed for now by walking down the stairway from the Fisherman’s Lot.
“The stairs end at the beach — no more boardwalk as we lost about 250-feet of boardwalk which was pulled out of the ground and in some cases buried under several feet of sand.
“Norton Point was closed Saturday through Monday. The entrance and back dune trails flooded, and we had to wait for the water to recede. Norton Point is now re-opened. Norton Point Chief Ranger Rick Dwyer reported that the beach fared well, and despite several overwash areas, we have a very clean, open beach.”
“Cape Poge, East Beach, and Leland Beach did pretty well. Lots of debris on the beaches from the Wasque cliffs, but no loss of dunes …”
Mr. Kennedy also described post-Irene Long Point in West Tisbury. “Long Point Ocean beach is now open,” he said. “The dunes took quite a hit, but, all in all, we are fortunate it wasn’t worse.”
Mr. Kennedy said all beaches are now open.