April 20, 2018
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Five times in the past Maine was hammered by rain and wind

By Emily Burnham, BDN Staff

Monday’s storm has left nearly 500,000 Maine homes without power, and many thousands of trees broken or totally felled. The loss of power this time around has reportedly surpassed the numbers of homes affected during the ice storm of 1998, but longtime Maine residents will likely remember other times that wild, mostly unexpected wind and rain battered the state.

Bangor Flood of 1976

[/media-credit] On Feb. 2, 1976, flash flooding along the Kenduskeag Stream stranded several people as 15 feet of floodwater quickly covered the Kenduskeag Mall area of downtown. Susan Biardi (right), then a secretary at a local insurance agency, sits atop a car while she waits for help. To her left, Harold Goss rescues Cynthia Calkins, who had been trapped inside her car.

A storm for the ages, this freak rain and wind storm on Feb. 2, 1976 brought winds in excess of 80 mph and left parts of downtown Bangor under 15 feet of water, thanks to an overflowing Kenduskeag Stream. An estimated 200 cars parked in downtown lots were submerged, several businesses were flooded and short-circuited power lines started fires. Damage was estimated at about $2.3 million in 1976 — which would be nearly $10 million in 2017.

“The Perfect Storm” of 1991

[/media-credit] Part of the front page of the BDN on Oct. 30, 1991, detailing what would become known as “The Perfect Storm.”

Later dramatized by a 1997 book and 2000 movie, the so-called “Perfect Storm” hit Massachusetts the hardest, but Maine still felt much of its force. It was called “perfect” because it combined a nor’easter with the remnants of Hurricane Grace, and between Oct. 28 and Nov. 2 it caused an estimated $360 million in damage, in today’s dollars. In Maine, York and Cumberland counties were most affected, including significant damage to the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport.

Wind storm, November 1995


On Sunday, Nov. 12, 1995, the winds were so high — up to 76 mph recorded in some places — that entire homes in Evergreen Trailer Park in Brewer were destroyed by fallen trees. TV broadcasts were knocked out on three out of four local channels, and nearly 50,000 Bangor Hydro Electric (now Emera Maine) customers were without power that night, and into the following day.

Nor’easter, April 2007

[/media-credit] An employee with a tree removal company examines a fallen tree in 2007 at Hancock Point in the town of Hancock.

The powerful spring nor’easter cut a swath of damage from Portland to Presque Isle that then Gov. John Baldacci called “the most destructive natural disaster seen by the state since the ice storm of 1998.” Boats sank in Portland Harbor, two people drowned in the Little River in Saco, and the huge amounts of rainfall meant the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor was dangerously high ahead of the canoe race. Power was out for several days for large portions of the state, with nearly 200,000 without power at the storm’s peak.

2008 Saint John River floods

[/media-credit] Carrying a branch with its teeth, a beaver walks to the U.S side with a after escaping the cold grip of the swollen St. John River as it rushed against the underside of the International Bridge just before 2 a.m. Thursday, May 1, 2008. The river was expected to crest around that time.

The major flooding of the Saint John River, between Maine and New Brunswick, is still fresh in the minds of many Saint John Valley residents. Starting Monday, April 28 with a storm of heavy, soaking rains, waters rose over the banks and into towns from Fort Kent to Van Buren, and didn’t recede until well into the first week of May. A federal disaster area was declared on May 9, though it took many months for the affected communities to fully recover.


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