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NAHANT — Massachusetts’ tiniest town is surrounded by water. Now, state funding will help it prepare for sea level rising.

“This will make a big difference,” said Selectman Enzo Barile. “People on Fox Hill Road just get inundated by water. It’s time we do something about it. With the sea level rising, it’s only getting worse.”

Nahant was among 82 cities and towns across the state to receive more than $2 million in state grant funding at the end of May. Members of a committee designated for determining how to use Nahant’s $15,000 share of the funds will meet this week.

Now that the town has been accepted into the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, which provides support for cities and town to begin the process of planning for climate change resilience, it will be eligible for additional funding. The initial grant will be used for planning, said Barile.

Revere and Lynn were also grant recipients, receiving $33,500 and $45,500 respectively.

“Nahant is a peninsula that sits in the Atlantic Ocean just a nine-mile drive north from the city of Boston,” Barile wrote in the town’s application for the program. “As such, we have one of the highest shoreline-to-land rations in the state of Massachusetts and are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

The town’s one-square-mile of land area is densely populated with 1,700 permanent residences, housing the town’s population of 3,497 residents, according to the report.

Over the winter, it suffered significant damage from a series of storms, which lifelong residents referred to as comparable to the Blizzard of ’78. Only the Blizzard of ’78 didn’t come with astronomical high tide cycles.

A March Nor’easter left Nahant in a state of emergency for several days. The high tides left much of the town under water and the water did not recede for several days on Willow Road and Fox Hill Road, among other areas.

In the application, Barile wrote that families and children were exposed to increased health risks when homes stayed in polluted floodwaters for four to five days. Five 10-inch pumps worked 24 hours a day for five days to remove millions of gallons of floodwater. 
The National Guard was called in with military transportation vehicles to aid in evacuations and additional pumps to try to remove the water.

“The severe damage caused by this winter’s Nor’easters illustrate how incredibly important it is that we plan and prepare now for the impacts of climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton in a statement. “We applaud the leadership and initiative of these 82 Communities that are partnering with the Commonwealth to take vital steps towards building climate resilience for their residents, infrastructure, business, and environment.”

In the application, representatives from the town said they want to complete a feasibility study on flood prevention and reduction, drainage improvements, beach restoration, and an engineering review of the current capacity of Bear Pond, which is used for drainage.

They also want to see a lowlands flooding and drainage study, a study on the Tudor Beach retaining wall, assessment of vulnerable road segments, and future coastal and inland flooding vulnerability projections, among other things.

Read original Lynn Item article here

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