As the North Shore endured a massive Nor’easter over the weekend, which included hurricane-force winds and rain, four Daily Item photographers ventured out into the storm to capture the sights for readers.
“For a kid growing up in Lynn, I would consider this one of the strongest storms I’ve ever seen from an ocean perspective,” said Jim Wilson, chief operating officer for The Item and the head of the newspaper’s photo department. “This was pretty dramatic watching the ocean and the waves.”
Wilson said the storm had all of the effects of drama, including a full moon, super high tide and the rage of the ocean, which collided all at once.
“Anytime I hear ‘storm’, I suit up and I’m ready to go out and capture it,” Wilson said. “The dream of a photographer is to capture history and when you hear storms, that’s history. Storms are a part of what we’re all about in New England.”
Wilson said when he knows there’s a storm, he’s always out looking for something different. He’s more interested in capturing how the storm is impacting people, rather than photographing elements of the storm itself. For instance, he said many people are just catching waves crashing, but he’s trying to look for the effects of the waves crashing down on people.
He said one dramatic element of the storm that he caught photographically was a high water rescue on the Lynnway near Market Street. Wilson said the man had just finished kidney dialysis treatment and needed to get back over to Nahant.
Help was requested to meet the man on the Lynnway — crews from a high-water vehicle pulled up, he got into the truck and was driven home. Without help, the man wouldn’t have been able to get home because the Causeway was flooded, he said.
What’s different about storms now, Wilson said, is 20 to 25 years ago, he would have been the only one out taking photographs, but now there’s people out taking pictures and posting them on social media.
But he said it can be dangerous if people try to capture photos too close to the seawall. A wave can come over the seawall, which also carries rocks and stones, and can cause the person to lose balance and fall into the water.
Item photographer Spenser Hasak also spoke about the numerous people who came out to take pictures of the storm on their cell phones.
“The fact that there was a whole bunch of people out was really surprising. (You) usually only get the diehards,” Hasak said. “It was cool seeing all the people turn out basically to enjoy Mother Nature and the waves on Lynn Shore Drive with the high tide coming through.”
Hasak said he saw a lot of trees down and a lot of debris in the road when he was driving around on Friday and Saturday. In coastal areas such as Puritan Road in Swampscott, he said it was a little weird to see the road was completely covered in sand so drivers couldn’t see the lines. It was the same for the Causeway going to Nahant, he said, where it was obvious it had been under water at some point.
On Friday, he said he encountered people stranded in cars and a lot of broken umbrellas, which were hanging around after being snapped out of people’s hands. When he was driving home that night, he hit a patch in Swampscott, which was completely blacked out from a power outage.
Hasak said one scenario he encountered on Friday was on Summer Street in Lynn, where the Saugus River had flooded over. He said a man used his SUV to push a car that was stuck out of the water.
Item photographer Owen O’Rourke took over capturing storm damage on Sunday and encountered numerous road closings. He said when he was headed for Marblehead, he almost got to the line on Atlantic Avenue and was detoured because the road was blocked off because of water. He said the Causeway was also closed when he got there because of waves going on top of it.
In Nahant, O’Rourke said there was a ton of debris that came down to the downtown area. People were riding around the Kelly Greens at Nahant in kayaks because the Willow Road golf course was flooded. He said the Department of Public Works was down there pumping water.
Paula Muller, a freelance photographer for Essex Media Group, said it was bad in Marblehead. She lives in town and said Friday night was the worst there for damage. The wind was howling, she added.
Front Street, which is always the area that gets hammered by Nor’easters, sustained a lot of damage. The Landing Restaurant, which hasn’t opened since it was battered in the last storm, probably sustained more damage. She said the damage coming off Fort Beach was the worst she’s ever seen — the fence had just been fixed there and it’s completely gone now.
Muller said the dock at the landing where kids in the summer go out to Children’s Island, was destroyed. An apartment complex near The Barnacle sustained heavy damage — a man told her the ocean came crashing through one of the apartments.
“It was the worst I’ve ever seen,” Muller said, referring to the damage created by a storm.