From reporter Tim Loh:
Colleen Murphy, a 24-year resident of Stratford’s Lordship neighborhood, stood on her front steps at noon Monday, gazing down Fourth Avenue at the watery mess created by waves crashing into beach cottages about 100 yards away.
Tidal pools were creeping to the foot of her street, three properties away.
Last year, Hurricane Irene brought furniture from those cottages to Fourth Avenue, but didn’t flood her home.
At noon Monday, as the rain fell in bursts and the wind howled, Murphy had nine people and two dogs inside her house. The flood zone begins next door, she insisted, but a watery canal had already taken over much of the neighboring backyard. When a cop drove by, her faith in her decision seemed to come under a wave of doubt.
“You guys know of the mandatory evacuation?” the cop asked.
Murphy nodded her head.
“I don’t know if we’re smart,” she said, moments later. “But we’re here.”
Across Lordship, police cars crisscrossed the streets Monday afternoon, trying to kick out stubborn beach watchers and convince a lot of residents like the Murphys to get out.
Main Street, one of the two entry points to the peninsula, had flooded early and was cut off by police. The other path, Lordship Boulevard, a mile-long stretch that curves through watery marshes, had barely held off high tide waters just before noon. The waters receded somewhat as the afternoon wore on – but promised to come back even stronger later.
“We may be an island for a while,” said Tom Halverson, the 54-year-old Lordship historian. That route has only overflowed once in his entire life, he said, and only for a couple of hours: during Hurricane Irene last year. He guessed it would happen again on Monday evening.
Standing above Russian Beach, along Park Boulevard, Halverson fielded questions from a couple of relative Lordship newcomers.
“They keep promising this area has never flooded,” said Eric Lubell, 59, a 3-year resident, looking out at the choppy surf.
“Never,” Halverson said of the higher land in Lordship. “Not even in 1938.”