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Gloucester battered by storm surge

High tide on Saturday afternoon damaged Gloucester seawalls and roadways.Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo/Twitter

Severe winds and coastal erosion shook Gloucester during the weekend’s nor’easter, collapsing sections of seawall and sending debris into roadways and boulders into at least one home, officials said Saturday.

“This was really serious,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said in a brief phone interview Saturday night. The storm “hit homes that it never hit before, and it breaks my heart, because a lot of them don’t have flood insurance,” she said.

The damage will bring Governor Charlie Baker to the city Sunday at noon, the first of four stops he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will make to survey the storm’s impact on coastal regions of Massachusetts.


After Gloucester, the governor will head to Quincy, where residents had to be rescued by boat from some of the storm’s worst flooding, his office announced Saturday night.

Polito will spend Sunday afternoon surveying the nor’easter’s effects further down the South Shore, in Scituate and Marshfield.

The storm’s effects in Gloucester were comparable to the nor’easter that struck the Boston area in January, said Fire Chief Eric Smith.

“We definitely took it on the chin like everyone else,” he said. “We were hammered pretty hard and have quite a bit of damage.”

Gloucester saw significant erosion in coastal areas, while heavy winds knocked trees and wires onto roads. The Magnolia pier and the footbridge used to access Good Harbor Beach both suffered severe damage, Smith said.

As many as 6,000 customers had been without power in the city during the height of the storm, Smith said. But only two percent of customers were without power by late Saturday night, according to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Many coastal properties in Gloucester are elevated enough to avoid some of the storm’s worst impacts, Smith said. Instead, homes near marshes and estuaries took the brunt of the flooding.


But given the storm’s severity, he said, officials received far fewer calls about flooded basements or smoking outlets than they expected. Many Gloucester residents had sandbagged their doors and made other preparations for the storm.

There were no mandatory evacuations, and at only one home did first responders have to assist residents in escaping. The storm did not cause any injuries in Gloucester, Smith said.

“We think folks really learned a lot from the storm in January and have been listening to the prep that we asked them to do, and have not been putting themselves in harm’s way,” he said.

Another tide cycle could have a “minor to moderate” impact on flooding around midnight. But the storm’s worst effects had likely passed, Smith said Saturday night.

“We’re expecting that we’ll weather through this pretty well, and come next week we’ll dig in” to survey the damage, Smith said.

Jacob Carozza can be reached at