Bob Connors, a resident of Annapolis Way in Newbury on Plum Island, spoke with the constant whining sound of wind in the background.
“It’s a doozie of a storm, that’s for sure,” Connors said. “Everybody is taking the storm seriously. Everybody’s taken the proper precautions. The next 24 hours are going to let us all know how bad this storm was, what areas got hit the hardest, and what properties are at risk.”
Connors said he decided not to voluntarily evacuate because of Hurricane Sandy, as officials had requested, because his home is newer and is built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane.
He said he had seen people with special needs, such as the elderly or those with special medical conditions, leave the island. Police set up a checkpoint on the island, barring those who are not residents or part of the emergency response team.
The midday high tide brought levels about 5 feet above normal. Connors said he has seen 12-to-16-foot waves throughout the day. The next high tide, around midnight, was a matter of concern,he said.
Eight houses on Plum Island have had the beach scraped in front of them through special permits, and that’s “working as planned, providing storm protection for the homes,” he said.
In Gloucester, an emergency operations center was opened at an elementary school. Schools and courts were closed, meetings canceled. Magnolia Pier was cordoned off. Residents were urged to stay out of harm’s way along the coast.
In Swampscott and Marblehead, little traffic moved along the streets.
Many on the North Shore were following the fate of the tall ship HMS Bounty, which sank 90 miles off North Carolina’s Outer Banks after the crew abandoned ship in the storm. The 180-foot Bounty visited Newburyport this summer, docking along the waterfront for several days of tours and a benefit for Lowell’s Boat Shop in .
The Coast Guard rescued 15 from the sinking ship and was still searching for the captain, according to news reports.
Winthrop was dealing with downed wires, telephone poles, trees, and tree limbs, as well as some blown transformers, Town Manager James Mckenna said just before 4 p.m.
“It’s all hands on deck,” he said. “Every 15 to 20 minutes, we’re responding to three to six events.”
While Winthrop has had punishing wind gusts, McKenna said he was thankful the area has not been hit with as much rain as communities farther south.
The most affected area of Winthrop is Point Shirley, where homes sustained roof damage from fallen tree limbs and where there are downed wires.
With two National Grid trucks dedicated to Winthrop for the storm, McKenna said the response to power outages has been good.
As the storm intensified, curiosity subsided among the large crowds that gathered along the shoreline Monday morning and afternoon.
“There was tremendous ocean spray 20 to 30 feet in the air,” McKenna said. “Mother Nature puts on a heck of a show, and you can’t help but watch.”
McKenna, who drove around town all day with the fire chief, said he will remain on guard, even as the storm dissipates.
“We’re still not out of the woods,” he said. “The wind gusts will be difficult, even through” Tuesday.
Farther north, in Revere, the tides at Revere Beach were high at midday and the storm surge strong, as punishing winds rattled street signs and pelted sand in the faces of those gathered under the historic gazebo.
Despite official recommendations that people stay home, traffic was backed up along Revere Beach Boulevard.
On the other end of the beach along Winthrop Parkway, the tidal gate was closed, and traffic was being detoured until at least Tuesday, said Revere Fire Captain Tom Todisco.
At Renzo Brick Oven Pizzeria on Revere Beach Boulevard, Sandy was proving to be quite profitable.
Residents and wave-watchers who trekked to Revere Beach across the road stopped for lunch and to get storm updates as newscasts blared from the two televisions at the bar.
“This is better than a regular Monday,” said bartender Avis Surette. “We got, like, 40 people since noon. It’s the people going outside taking pictures of the water.
“I didn’t even think we’d get anyone in here today.” Surette said.
Steven Rosenberg of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Joel Brown and David Rattigan contributed to this report.