News, Weather

Nahant prepares for the worst ahead of Friday’s nasty nor’easter

Dan Gauvain, Nahant DPW, removes driftwood from a beach in Nahant ahead of March's nor'easter. (File Photo | Owen O'Rourke)

NAHANT — City workers cleared catch basins and removed large debris from the town’s many beaches Thursday as Nahant prepared for what was expected to be one of the worst storms the town has seen in two decades.

The National Weather Service has issued high wind, flood watch, and coastal flooding warnings from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon.

Michael Halley, Nahant’s assistant emergency management director, said the storm is expected to last through four tide cycles.

“The first tide is coming in at 11 a.m., but it could impact us even before the tide comes in,” said Halley. “We’re doing everything and anything we can to prepare for this event. We will the shelter up at the Johnson School, and we may need to consider evacuation orders.

“There are certain areas that always flood,” he said. “At this point, we’re not urging anybody to evacuate. But anyone who lives in those prone areas should really pay attention. There’s no point in staying in your house. You can’t protect your house from water. The only thing you can do is leave.”

Halley reached out to the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to request military transport vehicles in case the causeway and rotary become inundated with water. Boats are being lined up to get people out of town.

An emergency shelter was expected to open at the Johnson Elementary School well before the first high tide.

“We’re putting out extra pumps tomorrow,” said Tim Lowe, a general foreman with the Department of Public Works. “You have to plan it between high tide and low tide, or it’s not going to work. That’s the hard part.”

Meanwhile, the department was fielding calls from residents worried that washed up driftwood would crash into their homes when the storm picks up.

The astronomical high tide and wind could create the worst storm conditions the town has seen, said Halley. It is expected to surpass the nor’easter in early January that, combined with an increased tide level and strong storm surge, left the causeway closed off at the Lynn rotary.

“We’re expecting the worst and hoping for the best,” said Halley. “We’re being proactive about this and we’re doing everything we can to have people, material, and supplies in place. We’re taking this very seriously.”

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