High Winds Cause Damage In Falmouth

Vehicles navigate around deep puddles on Surf Drive.

The Falmouth Coastal Resiliency Action Committee will host a public information forum early next month on coastal vulnerability in the Surf Drive area between Trunk River and Shore Street, committee chairman Charles T. McCaffrey said Thursday, November 7.

The tentative date and location for the hearing are Thursday, December 5, in the Hermann Foundation Meeting Room at Falmouth Public Library, but the date, time and location have not yet been confirmed, Mr. McCaffrey said.

This forum is a followup to a public presentation last month from the Woods Hole Group—a Falmouth-based environmental consulting organization that has worked with a town steering committee for the past year on a climate change vulnerability assessment and an adaptation planning project—about protecting town assets from flooding.

“We’re still early in the process with the vulnerability assessment for Surf Drive, which is one of the most vulnerable areas of coastline in Falmouth. We’ll be getting into more specific recommendations than the [townwide] vulnerability assessment did, and we’ll look at not only town assets but other assets as well, to come up with recommendations relative to flooding in the entire [Surf Drive] area,” Mr. McCaffrey said.

The December forum is meant to be a more open conversation than recent meetings that focused on town assets only.

“We’re looking at the general scope of the work—at everything that’s at risk and the changes that are expected in the Surf Drive area—and we’re looking for public input on what should we do, and the conversation could go in many directions, from science to economics to politics,” Mr. McCaffrey said.

The Woods Hole Group’s model will be much more sophisticated than the “bathtub” models used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Cape Cod Commission, which measure inundation levels but do not factor in erosion or how shoreline land forms change as a result of sea-level rise and storms, the chairman said.

“For example, flooding will go up the face of the bluff, and over time the bluff will erode, and when you have a dynamic land form like a barrier beach, there’s much more that has to be factored in,” Mr. McCaffrey said.

The town and its consultant are taking a management approach that adapts to evolving circumstances in making its recommendations for the Surf Drive area, as in all other parts of town.

“What makes sense to do this year and for the next, say, five years may not make sense for the following 10 or 20 years, and what you recommend doing there may not be adequate when you look ahead to 2070,” Mr. McCaffrey said.

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