BARS Update: South Shore
BY: KRISTIN KELLEHER & SARAH PYKKONEN, September 27th 2018
With only a few towns left to visit in our Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) Campaign, we spent the last two weeks in the South Shore hearing about how businesses in Scituate and Duxbury have been impacted by climate change.
Located on the South Shore right along the coast, businesses in Scituate and Duxbury are not new to Massachusetts’ storms. But with rising tides and storms becoming more frequent and severe, businesses who may not have experienced flooding in the past are now having to address these risks for the first time.
In Duxbury, we spoke with businesses scattered along the historic Snug Harbor. A number are right on the ocean, and as a result, sea level rise poses a significant risk.
Local climate adaptation leader, Ted Lawson, Executive Director of Duxbury Maritime School, a nonprofit located at the base of the harbor, relayed their experiences with storm surges and flooding:
“Well we had 2.5 feet of water in our buildings a couple times last year due to some of the storms…if you’re paying attention you have to realize that these are increasing threats. Our strategic planning is taking steps to mitigate our exposure to heavy weather events. We’re about to embark on a capital campaign for a building… that’s going to replace the 2.5 feet of water we got last year, we’re building it up 5 feet from the current elevation.”
Many of the businesses we spoke with are located right next to Scituate Harbor, where high tides during storms have led to water flooding the streets and causing the storm drains to overflow.
We were glad to learn that in the wake of these increasing extreme weather events, the city, the Fire Department, and the Scituate Harbor Association, provided excellent support during these past winter storms. We also found consensus among the businesses we spoke with, who highlighted local leadership and preparedness.
Lisa, the owner of Flowers and Festivities, commented that, “support is pretty good. They had sand out here for us so we could sandbag the front of the store. It was definitely helpful. So the first storm we weren’t prepared. For the second storm we had the sandbags and it really did help quite a bit. I mean it still came in, but not like the first time.”
This sentiment was echoed by Cara, the Salon Manager at Rudolph Adamo Hair Salon. “The Scituate Harbor Association seems to be doing a pretty good job, we worked well with the community [passing out] sandbags and helping each other out. I know our sign blew away and the owner of Galley grabbed it for us, so we’re definitely working as a team down here”.
The local State Representative, Josh Cutler, agreed that “Coming together as a community is vital when addressing these severe weather events. We cannot be fully resilient in the face of climate change if we do not work together.”
Businesses have taken steps to prepare on their own as well. Rudolph Adamo’s Hair Salon has prepared for emergencies by keeping a large back stock of supplies as well as a remote database to contact clients when they have to close the salon due to extreme weather and flooding.
“We can access our client information on one of our owners cell phones and everyone’s contact information to call them because obviously if we flood we don’t have power down here, so she can remotely work from home.”
Flowers and Festivities have raised all their electronics off the ground in preparation for future storms, as the owner, Lisa said, “I have my computer on bread crates, and everything’s up and if we hear there is a flood coming, even a higher tide, I bring in all my tables and we put everything up”.
Businesses are adapting to the continued flooding events along the South Shore.
We spoke with Duxbury Board of Selectmen Chairman, Shawn Dahlen. In addition to his work with the town he also owns, Dahlen Structural Inc, a local construction company. He has focused the business on helping locals recover extreme weather events, and ensure their homes and businesses are structurally sound for the next storm. They specialize in foundation repair, retaining and seawalls and erosion control projects. After the 2018 winter storms in Duxbury, business is booming.
“If you live in Duxbury, the flooding primarily is ocean flooding, coastal storm flowage as the result of a storm…A lot of what we do is education to get people to understand what they can do to improve their property and prevent it from being damaged in the future. Unfortunately a lot of it comes down to, if you really want to prevent anything from happening in the future, you better take your little 1910 cottage and put it up on piles. If you do that, you don’t have an issue. If decide you want to continue to leave it there with a two car under that floods every single storm, you’re gonna get what you get.” – Shawn Dahlen, Dahlen Structural LLC.
These are great first steps to becoming climate resilient. But there is still more to be done.
“I think we, as a society, are not preparing adequately. I just think that we as a society are reactive rather than proactive and this is a problem that we’re facing that requires proactive thinking and planning.” – Ted Lawson, Duxbury Maritime School
Our Resilience Team provided resources to help the community prepare for the coming winter. We dropped off our Scituate and Duxbury resilience guides to over 30 businesses, giving them the tools to face the next storm head on.