Massachusetts town grapples with sea rise after sand barrier fails

On the border with New Hampshire and Massachusetts – about 35 miles north of Boston – is Salisbury, a coastal town and popular summer destination for tourists. But for those who live in the town year round, especially those who live on the coastline, life’s not a beach.

Last month, after a series of storms battered the area, local citizens came together to take the necessary steps to protect their homes. Volunteer organization Salisbury Beach Citizens for Change raised more than $500,000 to erect a 15,000-ton sand dune – a formidable barrier that would hopefully protect at least 15 beach houses from destruction.

Or so they thought. The sand dune was completed after one month in early March, but just three days later, the dune – and nearly half a million dollars – was wiped away.

As weather patterns get more extreme and oceans get warmer, sea levels rise due to thermal expansion and weather patterns get more extreme, boosting coastal erosion. This climate crisis is now on the doorstep of Salisbury beach homeowners, as they suffer the consequences of rising sea levels, stronger winds and severe storms in recent months, including two in January.