Two of the highest tides ever recorded on Boston Harbor have happened in the last three months, with one of those being last Friday, March 2, around 11:15 a.m.
And on Friday, and on Jan. 4 before that, the tides and coastal storm surge combined to inundate areas of Chelsea that normally stay dry – particularly on Marginal Street and its tributaries up the hill.
This past Friday, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said floodwaters breached the banks of the Chelsea Creek once again – just as they did during the blizzard and coastal surge on Jan. 4.
He said there isn’t much the City can do short-term to alleviate that kind of powerful force.
“There just wasn’t a whole lot we could do about that situation when the Creek comes over its banks, onto the roadway and floods the entire road,” he said. “We may have to be thinking about – like other cities and towns – very long, long-term solutions because I think these types of storms are going to continue more and more. I think like everyone else we’re going to have to start thinking about Coastal Climate Resiliency. I don’t know what that would mean for Marginal Street, but it would have to mean something because we can’t keep having this kind of flooding.”
Ambrosino said the tidal action on Marginal Street is also what caused the closure of several streets on the hill, including Congress, Willow, Highland and others. Fixing that would mean years of planning and millions and millions of dollars, but perhaps that is something, he said, that needs to happen.
Beyond that, flooding issues on Eastern Avenue on Friday near the Burke School Complex may have a solution. He said there is some infrastructure work they intend to do in the coming years that should make a difference in that flooding situation.
On Friday, high tides inundated the area near the Burke and caused some disruptions in school activities.
The same is true for flooding on the Island End River, which exceeded its banks on Friday too. That type of flooding issue threatens the food supply at the New England Produce Center, but like Eastern Avenue, Ambrosino said there are solutions that have been planned.
“There are long-term solutions there, but they are expensive,” he said. “However, there are ideas that can make a difference with that situation.”
Beyond the flooding, the storm packed a punch with wind gusts that often went above 80 mph. That wreaked havoc with many trees in the city, and particularly with the City’s official Christmas tree in Chelsea Square.
That tree was knocked down in the winds, and had to be removed from its long-time home.
“The Christmas tree did get knocked over,” said Ambrosino. “As I understand, it was transplanted some years ago and didn’t have very deep roots. The Tree Board will look at that and try to figure out what we’ll do about a new Christmas tree. Luckily, we have plenty of time to think about it.”