Vineyarders assess storm damage and begin cleanup

An historic Northeaster keeps storming. SSA updates, road closures here.


Updated at 7 am, Sunday

Martha’s Vineyard woke up to strong winds, coastal flood warnings, and a lot of cleaning up to do Saturday. The storm began in earnest on Friday with soaking rain and lashing winds that reached hurricane-force gusts.

On day two, more than 2,000 Islanders remained without power. As of Sunday morning, that number had dropped to a little over 600 with the largest concentrations in Chilmark and West Tisbury.

Damage will likely take days to assess, but the cleanup has already begun — trees are being removed from roads and boats being tugged off the sand.

Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the entire commonwealth in order to help protect citizens and property from the impacts of the storm and expedite response and recovery efforts, according to an update from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency released at 1:45 pm Saturday.

Roads were closed by flooding Friday and Saturday, as well as downed trees.

In an email to The Times, Pat Waring, a longtime Times contributor, recounted a story about a felled tree or trees that closed State Road in Tisbury Friday night during the storm.

Waring witnessed the incident as she drove up-Island toward her home in West Tisbury at around 6 pm. “It was just after dark, blustery with occasional gusts and moderate rain,” she wrote.

Crews were already on the scene with chainsaws, she said. A clerk at Scottish Bakehouse told Waring that no vehicles had been hit by the tree.

Drivers were being rerouted on Lambert’s Cove Road until the downed tree could be removed, she wrote.

“Some customers were unable to get to the restaurant to pick up dinners they’d ordered,” Waring wrote. “At least one couple took the long route by the airport to get there from West Tisbury.”

Crews called in a crane, a large dump truck and flood lights to clear the road, she said.

“A few drivers or onlookers briefly took refuge in the Bakehouse, which was warm and welcoming,” she wrote. “The restaurant stayed open a little past closing time to accommodate customers delayed by the blocked road.”

The road reopened to one lane of traffic at 8 pm.

Boats break free

Four sailboats that broke free of their moorings in Vineyard Haven Harbor are in various states of rescue.

The McNabb is currently afloat and is being pumped out by its owner, Tisbury harbormaster John Crocker said.

The owners of the Witch of Endor, which crashed against the slip at the Steamship Authority terminal in Vineyard Haven, are waiting for the tide to go down before they attempt to pump the boat.

Heart’s Desire, which landed on Beach Road, was towed off, attached to a mooring and, subsequently, dragged that mooring across the harbor, Crocker told The Times.

A fourth sailboat, the Rachel Saunders, is high on the sand, Crocker said. Sea Tow is being called in to move it, though it’s not considered an emergency, Crocker said.

Ramsey Chason, of Sea Tow in Falmouth, confirmed he will be making his way across Vineyard Sound to rescue the boat as soon as conditions allow him to do it safely.

Crocker told a Times reporter part of the pier at Owen Park collapsed.

He returned on the one ferry that made its way from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven and overheard the captain on the radios. “Tie it up tight,” he said, “We’re not going anywhere.”

Dick Johnson, who also returned to the Island on the M/V Nantucket, was surprised at how good the crossing had a different perspective. “It was fine,” he said of the voyage. “I was surprised. I thought it was going to bumpy.”

Weather advisories

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued another coastal flood advisory for Sunday morning from 11 am to 3 pm for eastern Massachusetts, including the Cape and Islands. “Minor coastal flooding is likely for today’s high tide,” the alert states. “The typical low-lying areas will most likely see inundation as well as locations that have received breaches in dunes and seawalls.”

Road closures

Many low-lying Island roads remain closed to traffic, due to flooding. Beach Road, including the drawbridge, is closed from just north of the hospital to Five Corners.

In Aquinnah, State Road at Totem Pole Road was closed Saturday due to a downed tree.

Steamship Authority

As of 7 am Sunday morning, the Steamship Authority ferries were back after nearly two full days of being out of service.

“Yes we have resumed service this morning,” Bob Davis, general manager for the SSA, wrote in an email Sunday. “The M/V Nantucket had an issue with a generator but should be operating on its next scheduled trip.”

Davis wrote that there are some issues with “communication providers” that is affecting the website. “Our IT department is working with the various providers to get it up and running,” he wrote.

As of 11 am Sunday, the SSA website was back up and running.

On Saturday, the SSA canceled most of its runs after one crossing at 2:30 pm.

There was a chaotic scene at the Vineyard Haven terminal Saturday afternoon where passengers were hopeful about their chance to finally get off-Island.

Katie of Edgartown told a Times reporter that she was thrilled earlier in the day when her power finally went back on. “I woke up like a kid on Christmas. Power!” Katie said. 

Others talked about this being the worst storm they had experienced on the Vineyard.

The Steamship Authority had suspended today’s Martha’s Vineyard ferry service until 12:00 pm Saturday due to high winds and rough seas.

At the Woods Hole terminal Saturday at around noon, cars were lined up waiting for boats and people were crammed into the new temporary terminal building taking every available seat and sitting on the floor. Many of them were either busy texting or talking on their phones.

There was a longer than usual line at Pie in the Sky because Coffee Obsession was closed, a downed wire dangling perilously close to its entrance.

Outside the Woods Hole terminal, Susan Rosin of Vineyard Haven was one of the few waiting outside in the still howling wind. “I actually left two days ago from the Island. I didn’t want to be stranded there,” she said. Rosin has lived on and off Island and is trying to decide if she wants to stay on the Vineyard.

She’s not sure how her house fared in the storm. “I’m trying to find out,” she said.

Eager to get back home, she said Steamship employees told her the ferries might start running at 1:15 pm. “I just hope it’s not too rough on the boat,” she said.

That didn’t end up happening as the SSA canceled that ferry.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning until Saturday, March 3, 6:00 pm. Based on the most recent forecasts from the National Weather Service, the Steamship Authority anticipates service disruptions today and possibly Sunday. According to their website, the Steamship Authority is continuing to monitor the storm and will issue further travel advisories and updates as revised forecasts from the National Weather Service are released.

For additional information on the storm please refer to

The Steamship Authority advises its customers to check its website for further updates.

To make or modify a reservation, call 508.477.8600, or visit, or visit one of the terminals.

Meanwhile, the Chappy ferry remained closed as of Saturday afternoon. Much of the wharf area in Edgartown remained under water.


Vineyarders without power can go to town libraries during the day. John Christensen, emergency management director for West Tisbury, told The Times they are not opening regional shelter. He suggested anyone in need of shelter contact local police or town emergency management directors to get motel voucher if needed. After 7 pm, St. Andrews Church in Edgartown will provide shelter to those who need it.

Reporters Rich Saltzberg, Gabrielle Mannino, and Barry Stringfellow contributed to this post. 


  1. This was a pretty serious storm. Serious enough to bring down the power for most of the island– That’s pretty significant, as the power company crews do a great job. Whatever Eversource is doing, keep it up. I was surprised that the power was back on so quickly.. My heartfelt thanks to the crews that worked long and hard.

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