After a record five tornadoes touched down in western Maine on Saturday, Maine communities are facing lengthy cleanup and repair efforts on a week in which many locals were hoping to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and just relax.
In Bridgton, people are now working to get trees off homes, campers and cars.
Robert Ghizzoni’s family camp is near Route 302, right in the path of a tornado that hit ground on the east side of Moose Pond. That twister in the Shawnee Peak area dragged along for two miles and was about 250 yards wide, according to the National Weather Service.
“I’ve been working a lot at home and came up here to get some relaxation,” Ghizzoni said. “[But I haven’t gotten] too much of that yet. … We’ll get a little swimming in after all the work.”
The National Weather Service’s Gray office issued seven tornado warnings Saturday, breaking the office’s record for warnings for an entire year. The office’s previous record was six, hit in 2014.
Using the Enhanced Fujita Scale for tornado intensity, weather service officials say there was an EF0 over Sebago Lake at 2:25 p.m., an EF1 over Moose Pond near Bridgton at 4:42 p.m., an EF1 in Denmark at 6:09 p.m. and an EF1 in Bridgton at 6:14 p.m.
The weather service on Wednesday finally confirmed that a fifth weather event on Saturday qualified as an EF0 tornado in Otisfield around 6:35 p.m., as well. The five twisters is the most recorded in Maine since they started keeping records in 1950.
— Katie Sampson (@KatieWGME) July 5, 2017
An EF0 has winds between 65 and 85 mph, while an EF1 has winds between 86 and 110 mph.
Karen and Tom Hayes, of Massachusetts, were at their Bridgton summer home when one of the tornadoes touched down Saturday.
Tom said he was out grilling when the wind picked up, and the couple went inside for safety.
Karen remembers the sound of the tornado — followed by a tree coming through the roof.
“It was just like a bomb,” Karen said. “I just was on the floor halfway between the bedroom and the kitchen, and he was laying in front of me, and we were sort of disoriented and everything was just completely out of scope.”
Once the tornado had passed, the couple had to crawl out of their damaged home.
The tornado brought trees down on almost every home on Thompson Lane.
Residents on the east side of Moose Pond say when the tornado touched down it took only seconds to uproot trees that have been on the shoreline for hundreds of years.
For Amanda Candow’s family, the storm came as a surprise.
They got inside just as the tornado passed.
“We realized we needed to get away from the windows really quickly,” Candow said.