Storm Surge

A Coastal Village Battles the Rising Atlantic

William Sargent

On January 2, 1987, a fierce nor’easter stalled off Cape Cod’s Nauset Beach. Pounding waves flattened the low dunes and a foot-high storm surge breached the fragile barrier. Tons of sand and water cascaded through the break. Overnight, the village of Chatham, Massachusetts, faced an amount of sea level rise that most coastal communities won’t face for years. Storm Surge tells the dramatic story of the people of Chatham and how they battled to survive the sudden and unexpected disaster. It interweaves the stories of homeowners whose houses were swept away and the fishermen whose livelihoods were threatened, with the public brawls that erupted between dedicated scientists, environmental bureaucrats, law enforcement agencies, and attorneys. It puts a human face on the larger story of other coastal communities around the globe that must inevitably come to grips, as Chatham did, with the environmental impact of a changing world.

Paper: $14.95
ISBN-13: 9781584654063
Pages: 176 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: July 1, 2004


  • Sargent can turn an event as mundane as a rising tide into poetry . . . Storm Surge is a book for everyone who loves the shore, especially Cape Cod.

    Boston Globe
  • With Storm Surge, Sargent has written a gripping tale of nature’s power to change the earth and to change lives in the process. It’s science writing that reads like a novel, with all the page-turning excitement of a thriller.

    William Martin
    author of Cape Cod

About the Author

William Sargent

William Sargent is a consultant for the NOVA Science Series and is the author of numerous books about science and the environment, including A Year in the Notch: Exploring the Natural History of the White Mountains and Storm Surge: A Coastal Village Battles the Rising Atlantic. Formerly director of the Baltimore Aquarium and a research assistant at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, he has taught at the Briarwood Center for Marine Biology and at Harvard …

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