Save Popponesset Bay -
Tropical Storm Irene  
August 2011  
August 2011 
Tropical Storm Irene Report


With a week of warning, Tropical Storm Irene arrived with winds of 70 mph, a terrific storm surge, but not more than a couple of inches of rain. For the Popponesset Bay and Spit, the danger arose from high water levels at high tide early afternoon on Sunday, August 28.  The waters in Vineyard Sound were churning while the water levels in Popponesset Bay, Popponesset Creek and surrounding inlets were at their highest in years. 


Wild waters in Vineyard Sound on Sunday
Wild waters in Vineyard Sound on Sunday

While western New England and upstate New York suffered greatly from flooding and wind damage, it sounds like generally there was not too much damage here. Power went out for 12 hours or so on Sunday evening for many people and was restored over time within a day or two in many places where it did not return.

On the Spit, there were a few breaches, with the principal ones closer to Audubon land near the eastern third of the Spit.  The photos below show a breach near the foot of Popponesset Island.
Storm photos by Lily Smith


Lily Smith was among the photographers who ventured out on Sunday afternoon to capture the amazing transformation of the Bay and surrounding waterways. 


These photos show how much the storm surge and high winds affected our area.


Spit in storm w SPB sign
The Spit and SPB sign stand guard against the storm
Spit separates the Full-to-the-brim Creek from the wild waves in the Sound
The Spit separates the overflowing Popponesset Creek from the wild waves in the Sound



washover area
Despite this wash over, the sand fencing installed by Rich Bailey and team really did the job in protecting vulnerable areas of the Spit.



washover into Creek
The water level in the Creek was so high, it almost covered the Spit in sections.



Evaluation Next Week
The engineering, permitting and dredging work done by SPB and the Town of Mashpee protect the dunes from foot traffic.  By planting dune grasses, adding sand fencing, and building the Spit levels up with sand from the outer channel dredging and the 1916 Channel dredging, the Spit survived a real lashing by the sea.  


Without this work, Bay-side Popponesset Island residents would not have protection from the Sound during this wild storm, while Creek-side Popponesset Island people and Bright Coves residents might have had access through the channel cut off to Popponesset Bay at the foot of Popponesset Island. 


We'll be taking a close look at what needs to be done to repair the breaches and will let you know.


The moral of the story is, the SPB Channel did not suffer from a devastating breach or overwash, does not need a special dredging project, and is still navigable.  The Spit and SPB channel at the foot of Popponesset Island are always at risk.  That's nature.  But the ongoing preventative measures spared us from a potential costly repair and dredge, repair work that can cost as much as $25,000.  SPB works to maintain the needed permits from federal, state and local authorities so that if a major overwash or breach occurs, we are ready to go.  Save Popponesset Bay is the entity empowered to provide safe and navigable passage for the channel between the Spit and Popponesset Island.   


Thanks again for all your support of Save Popponesset Bay!



Mike Oleksak/Greg Smith
P.O. Box 66
N. Attleboro, MA 02761


What is SPB?
Popponesset Bay (Dawn Peterson)
Save Popponesset Bay, Inc. is a 501 c 3 organization with the mission of keeping the waterways in and around Popponesset Bay safe and navigable and to protect the Popponesset Spit, an endangered species habitat.

Photo by Beverly
 Myers Bailey
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