Edgartown declares emergency for South Beach

The declaration is part of a process that may yield federal emergency funds.

Recent storm activity further eroded Atlantic Drive - Dave Plath

In order to qualify for federal emergency funds after significant storm damage last week, the Edgartown Select Board declared an emergency for the South Beach area.

The board did so at a Wednesday meeting with the town parks commission, which was well-attended by officials from other town bodies.

Much of the meeting involved descriptions of damage to the area, and discussion of funding opportunities from federal and other sources.

Parks commissioner Andrew Kelly described damage at South Beach, including the failure of a culvert at Right Fork, which caused a partial collapse of Atlantic Drive. “There are two pipes that run across [the road], and it just undermined it there and collapsed the asphalt,” Kelly said.

According to town highway superintendent Allan DeBettencourt, around $16,000 in repairs will be needed for the Right Fork culvert area alone.

Dunes along the beach also suffered. “The status right now is, obviously, between the Dec. 18th [storm] … and the one on Jan. 10th, we’ve lost significant dunes,” Kelly said.

A bathhouse at the beach also likely needs to be removed, to provide an adequate slope for a dune. The bathhouse “is in hard shape,” Kelly said.

At the meeting, town administrator James Hagerty asked the select board to declare a local state of emergency, as part of a process to seek funds through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Hagerty said that after last week’s storms, MEMA asked emergency managers statewide to report to them any local responses to damage, and short-term plans. Edgartown must apply to MEMA by Jan. 23, after which the agency will then determine eligibility for federal emergency assistance. Those funds would be available on a shorter time frame than grant funding.

Kelly also spoke about shorter-term strategies at South Beach. “We’re pretty confident that we can do a lot, and definitely be open for the summer,” he said.

For next steps, Kelly recommended action at Left Fork, and the beach’s primary dunes. 

“Those are the priority because of how close the water is, and because you have to have access to those houses out on Atlantic. And then the second thing will be [to fix] the [Right Fork] culvert, and maybe even shore up a little sand [there] — just enough of a dune on that corner to hold, just in case we do get another storm.” 

Kelly added that this would require a permit from Massachusetts to move sand from the Down Harbor area. Moving this sand would also enable access to Norton Point, and the protection of homes along Navy Way.

So far, propane trucks have been able to pass through to help heat homes on Atlantic Drive.

Kelly said there is currently no way to estimate how much sand will be needed at Right Fork, but that some work could be done to protect the culvert.

Town administrator Hagerty said that federal funding would allow the town to spend outside of appropriated funds, if needed. “It just puts the mechanism in place, as necessary. I think we can all agree that it is an emergency out there. We got a culvert blocking a public road … prohibitive access to various neighbors … all those factors [are] in mind.”


  1. I wonder what the hard line republicans here think
    about this ? federal money ? increase the deficit ?
    I’m trolling you–Tell me why this should get federal
    funding and school lunches and health care should not.
    Don’t get me wrong- we need the federal funding here–
    but I’m one of those liberals that think we should tax
    the wealthy to pay for stuff like this.
    But, it seems there are 6 houses that need this access.
    Perhaps they could create a road association and not take
    my taxpayer money to live in a high risk area.

  2. Not sure which Edgartown official rose to the occasion and put forward this suggestion, but hats off to them. Feeling great that we have James Hagerty Captain of the ship and that we can get some appropriate action down there ASAP. I do hope we can do away with some of the, unnecessary burdening regulations and making sure SAND from one area is compatible with SAND to another area and let’s get moving and dredging sand.

  3. Engelman, I think that your approach of mitigating the affects of climate change by dealing with its fallout is the most fiscally responsible and effective use of time and resources. Let’s face it driving around in electric vehicles on MV has as much effect of changing the climate as walking around in circles at five corners demanding a cease fire from Israel defending herself does.

    An earlier comment to you, similar in nature, was flagged as denying climate change. In no way am I denying that the climate is changing it’s my opinion that humans don’t have nearly as much power to control it. Especially when the entire human race isn’t committed to a simpler life. No cars, no air conditioning, no heat from burning wood, no industrial society and no procreation. My opinion is humans absolutely have an adverse affect on the planet with infinite ripple effects. We can and should do our best to be responsible stewards of our finite natural resources. Again my opinion, is that climate change has been weaponize and politicized to attack each other rather that coming together to find mutually beneficial solutions to responsibly use our natural resources.

    Opinions are just that, opinions, and they can be wrong. I have had many wrong opinions and have been swayed by people on this very site. I was completely against nuclear energy because of its dangerous byproducts until Don Keller shared some research that changed my mind. My point is that we need to share our opinions without censorship so perhaps they can be changed. Censoring people is never the answer especially if they are wrong as they have now shown their intellect, or not. Please let me the one evaluate as to what is write or wrong and the ability to respectfully change someone’s mind.

Comments are closed.