The blizzard of 2013 hit the town of Winthrop hard.
The high tides crashed over Winthrop’s sea wall and down the town’s narrow streets. But when Town manager Jim McKenna talks about the flooding, he’s matter of fact.
“We expected flooding,” McKenna said. “We live close to Mother Nature here.”
That comes with a cost. To protect Winthrop from the ocean, Massachusetts is spending $30 million dollars to expand this beach – which McKenna says helped blunt the storm’s fury.
“This is our first line of defense against any ravages of storms as you can see,” McKenna said. “What we need to do is build this beach up to a slope level, and a distance run, that can really dissipate the water pressure and volume pressure coming at the town.”
Residents told us the flooding was the worst they’d seen. But it may be a sign of things to come. Experts predict rising sea levels and increasingly violent storms in the years ahead. In the future, McKenna said people there may need to consider reconstructing their homes.
“Down south, construction recommendations are to lift homes to allow water to come and go a little more easily,” he said. “I think we might be looking at some of those ideas.”
Of course, there’s another option: Deciding that some neighborhoods are just too risky to call home. But in Winthrop, they’re not there just yet.
“We live near the ocean,” said resident Theresa Herbert. “It’s like, you live near the airport, you deal with the airport. I’m a sailor. We live near the ocean. You deal with what is.”