Beach Ravaged by Worst Storm Since '33 - Untold Havoc

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Seacoast Preservation Commission to Confer on Erosion Problems Tomorrow

Hampton Union, Thursday, April 25, 1940

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

The washing away of the concrete seawall and undermining of the town
parking space at the center of the beach presents a serious erosion problem
to officials of the state highway and recreation departments.

Parking space battered by pounding surf
Parking Space Battered by Pounding Surf
Smashed by the terrific pounding of the sea Sunday and Monday, this is what remains of the 10-foot sidewalk and retaining wall near the town parking lot at the beach. The cement structure crumbled before the onslaught of the mighty waves at the height of Sunday night's high tide, with approximately 250 feet of the sidewalk being reduced to shambles. The above photo was taken as the cameraman looked southward along the beach near the center of the business area. --Cut Courtesy Manchester Union

Col. George Ashworth, president of the New Hampshire Seacoast Preservation Commission, has called a meeting of the commission for Thursday afternoon at the home of Maj. Charles E. Greenman at Boar’s Head to consider a permanent solution to the erosion of the business center. The seawall at North Beach and the jetties at the mouth of the Hampton River, built with state and federal funds, demonstrated their worth in the heavy coastal storm of the past few days.   
Recommendations of the commission will be presented at a hearing later before Gov. Francis P. Murphy and his Council. Highway Commissioner Frederick E. Everett, Highway Engineer Daniel H. Dickinson and District Engineer Roy Kimball have been here to view the damage caused by the high surf. It is expected that plans for both temporary and permanent protection against erosion will be considered at Thursday's meeting.

About 450 feet Of the breakwater was washed away carrying with it the concrete sidewalk and nearly a third of the town parking area. Both the police station and the Charles T. White Memorial playground were seriously undermined by the tide. The piling of sand bags under the police station by Precinct Commissioner Armas Guyon prevented further undermining there.

Storm damage
Bandstand Narrowly Escapes Destruction
The roar of the turbulent Atlantic provided an unwelcome symphony at the beach bandstand Sunday night and left this mass of debris piled up in the very heart of the resort. In the immediate foreground is what remains of the sidwalk in back of the bandstand after the heavy seas poured tons of water into the streets of the resort. Bandstand seats, fixed to the ground, are intact after weathering the storm but other benches along the walk were carried away. -- Cut Courtesy Manchester Union

The huge rock seawall built by the state in front of the state parking area just south of the town parking space provided ample protection for that section. However, the concrete edge to the town parking area that served as a breakwater failed to withstand the heavy sea. The first section was built about 15 years ago as a combination parking space and breakwater by Robert (“Daddy”) Ring and he recovered the cost of his work and materials by taking the proceeds of the parking area. When town officials observed that the parking space was a profitable venture, they furthered the construction of additional sections of this area, appropriating about $5,000 each year for that purpose. The total cost was in the vicinity of $20,000.

Since the town parking space is located on the state land, the problem of replacing the breakwater and providing adequate erosion protection is up to state rather than town officials. Since the state has taken over the beach front, plans have been proposed to eliminate the parking along the boulevard and relegate it to the rear of the resort so that a view of the ocean will be available to motorists driving along the Ocean boulevard. The storm may force some definite action in regard to this matter.

The total amount of damage caused by the storm is yet unestimated because of the widespread destruction. All along New Hampshire’s 18-mile seacoast the storm has left its mark in debris covered highways, smashed seawalls and flooded cellars.

Many cottages were damaged by the surf lashing at the underpinnings. At Rye Beach considerable damage resulted in the vicinity of the Beach club and in front of the summer residence of “Happy” Beckwith, owner of the Wentworth-by-the-Sea at New Castle. More than 100 feet of seawall was broken. Due to a shoulder washout it was necessary to close the Ocean boulevard at Rye, between the Farragut House and the location of the old wooden fish houses.


State Officials Will View Recent Storm Damage at Beach

Governor and Council are Expected to Meet Friday With Seacoast Commission

Hampton Union, Thursday, May 2, 1940

Governor Francis P. Murphy and members of his executive council are expected to visit the beach
tomorrow to view the damage done by the recent storm which created havoc all along the beach
front causing a great deal of consternation among the beach property owners.

It was not known today whether Gov. Murphy would be able to attend in person but his executive council will be present to view the situation and meet with the Seacoast Planning and Development Commission, the Selectmen and Precinct oflicers in the Community hall.

The object of the meeting is to discuss plans whereby a permanent solution to the erosion problem now facing the beach might be found.

May Build Jetty

The possibility ot moving the comfort station from the beach front to the edge of the marsh, where a large parking space might be graded in, will be discussed. Another plan which may be presented is the building of a jetty extending southerly from GreatBoar's Head, which has recently been said to be an absolute necessity it the beach front is to be safeguarded from severe storms.

There has been some discussion as to whether federal funds be available for this type of project or whether the state would have to pay the entire burden.

Erosion Problem

The problem presented by erosion will be studied at the annual convention of the American Shore and Beach Preservation association in June. These undoubtedly will be particularly taken up in an address to be given by Daniel H. Dickerson, chief highway engineer tor New Hampshire.

Mr. Dickinson observed Wednesday that the vagaries of ocean currents are difficult to understand. For a time, they seem determined to wash away a beach entirely and then they change their direction and often build up more than they formerly took away.

"While erosion undoubtedly has taken place at Hampton in recent years,” Mr. Dickinson said, "there is some evidence that in the remote past the oceanfront was farther back than it was now. How else can you explain great deposits of sea sand beneath the existing Hampton marshes? Barrier beaches, like the one at Hampton, admittedly are subject to change, but I believe that erosion can be greatly checked, it not entirely halted, by the erection of substantial seawalls. Walls that already have been put in place have served their purpose well and I have great confidence that they will hold the ocean back.”

Mr, Dickinson admitted that walls of this character are costly and that they probably should not be built until there has been a very thorough study of the situation, but Hampton has been given expert survey and it is believed that conditions there are very well understood.

More Photos of the Storm Damage

Storm damage

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