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Coastal Residents Say Storm Damage Rivals ’78 Blizzard, Hurricane Bob With AM-Storms Rdp, Bjt

October 31, 1991

SCITUATE, Mass. (AP) _ The Gentile family’s home survived at the ocean’s edge through 29 years of hurricanes, blizzards and other lashings - until this week’s storm punched it into a hollow shell and washed away its contents.

″It’s just totally wrecked,″ Nancy Gentile said Thursday. She clutched a garbage bag containing all that remained salvageable from her home in the Peggotty Beach section of this suburb south of Boston.

The Gentile home was one of four that survived the ferocious blizzard of 1978. Hurricane Bob in August never touched it. But Wednesday’s storm did it in, along with scores of others.

″You can’t find the stove, the sinks, the toilets, nothing,″ said Janet MacRae Dolan, pointing toward all that was left of her beach-front home: the roof.

She said she had watched along with neighbors as waves enveloped their street and property. But finally she could take it no more.

″I had to leave,″ she said, acknowledging she couldn’t bear to watch her home crash to the ground.

Other neighbors had to be rescued by boat as the nor’easter rolled in on 15-foot waves and wind gusting to more than 75 mph.

On Thursday, they were back, hugging and greeting each other as they gathered in a drizzle to survey the damage. Cars, appliances, and stairs littered a nearby marsh. Insurance adjusters, wearing telltale trench coats and ties, passed out cards to property owners.

Firefighters and National Guardsmen helped some residents pick through the debris.

Martha McCarthy, who has a summer home in Peggotty Beach, started to cry as she spoke of the kinship among people who live there.

″It’s not just a house,″ she said, noting that friendships and family experiences go back generations.

Cindy Riel, a member of the Massachusetts National Guard, said her unit was trying to prevent looting and to protect ″people who are trying to get back into houses that are about to cave in.″

As Jeff Lipston, 51, dug out his vacation home and sailboat, he thought back to just two months ago when trees and electrical lines were knocked to the ground by Hurricane Bob, which, compared to the coastal storm, did ″absolutely no damage at all.″

But the lure of the sea is strong, and many vowed to rebuild.

″We won’t give up,″ said Gentile, whose permanent home is in Peabody. ″We’re pitching tents.″

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