April 20, 2018
Weather Latest News | Poll Questions | Kenduskeag Stream Race | Opioids | Maine Legislature

Storm surge, high tides join forces to swamp coastal properties

Courtesy of Scarborough PD
Courtesy of Scarborough PD
A Scarborough Police Department cruiser was parked Thursday on Sawyer Street near the Cape Elizabeth town line after the road was closed due to coastal flooding shortly after noon. Storm surge caused by a blizzard and astronomical high tides flooded many low-lying coastal areas, including several businesses, in southern and midcoast Maine.
By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff

Along Maine’s coast, the biggest problem caused by Thursday’s blizzard was flooding. The storm’s surge combined with unusually high tides to swamp several waterfront properties.

Cook’s Lobster & Ale House on Bailey Island got flooded with icy storm surge shortly after noon on Thursday, when one of the highest tides in recent memory crested in southern Maine and along the midcoast. Rising waters likewise flooded Hurricane Restaurant in Kennebunkport, the Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. building in Belfast and The Clambake Restaurant on Pine Point Road in Scarborough.

Some buildings along Main Street in downtown Damariscotta with rear entrances to a parking lot next to the Damariscotta River also had some reported water damage.

In Lubec, the surging water collapsed a portion of McCurdy’s Smokehouse, the nation’s last herring brining shed, into Lubec Narrows, which separates the town from the Canadian island of Campobello. Witnesses said the waters carried the remains of the building about 100 yards.

The town is monitoring the situation and a qualified remediator will be meeting Rachel in the morning at low tide.

Posted by Carol Dennison on Thursday, January 4, 2018

Town officials are worried that the debris — a roof, some walls and a chimney — could float into the international bridge that connects Lubec to Campobello, Town Administrator Renee Gray said.

Tides during the storm peaked at 28 feet, said Carol Dennison, chairwoman of the Lubec Board of Selectmen. Tides in far eastern Maine rise and fall more significantly than they do along the coast further south due their proximity to the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world.

“We don’t know where the building is going to go. We are just hoping it doesn’t become a navigational hazard,” she said. “Nobody can understand what a really high tide does until they live in Maine.”

The building’s remains stayed lodged in nearby pilings through high tide on Friday and Lubec Landmarks, the non-profit organization seeking to preserve the smokehouse, will be meeting with contractors on Saturday to determine whether the brining shed can be preserved, landmarks, President Rachel Rubeor said.

In Kennebunkport, the owner of Hurricane Restaurant recalled watching seawater begin to creep in a little before noon Thursday, sending up sparks from the eatery’s electrical outlets. Luanne MacDonald said she immediately called the fire department to have the power shut off, but there was nothing anyone could do to stop the flooding.

“The tide was just too high,” MacDonald said. “We couldn’t keep the water from coming in. We probably had 6 to 8 inches in here.”

It was the second time Hurricane has partially flooded this winter. During last week’s cold snap, MacDonald said, the restaurant’s pipes burst.

The tidal flooding began to retreat around 2 p.m., and the restaurateur said she is now working to repair the damage before Hurricane re-opens for the season in April.

“It’s just never been this catastrophic,” MacDonald said of the winter weather. “I’m just trying to salvage, repair what I can. And we’ll just wait for the thaw in the spring.”

In Scarborough, the surging sea cut off access to The Clambake until about 7 p.m., and the retreating tide left pools up to 3 inches deep in parts of the restaurant, according to its co-owner.

“Once the tide got around the building and stuff you couldn’t get back to the building,” said Kevin Thurlow, who was in Florida Thursday and monitored the storm over security cameras.

The Clambake, which has served seafood on Scarborough’s exposed Pine Point for more than 50 years, often sees flooding when tides rise above 12 feet. It was spared any serious damage Thursday, Thurlow said.

The high tide Thursday in Portland was the third-highest since 1912, when the city’s daily tidal data first began to be recorded, according to the National Weather Service. Waters rose to 13.79 feet in Portland, swamping wharves along Commercial Street.

The top two tides ever recorded in Portland both occurred in early 1978, including one that crested over 14 feet during the blizzard on Feb. 7.

Several roads also were flooded at high tide Thursday during the storm. Sawyer Street at the Cape Elizabeth town line and Route 1 in Scarborough were closed temporarily. Rising waters also encroached onto Somerset Street and Marginal Way in Portland, Route 1 in Lincolnville and the Deer Island causeway.

Susan Faloon, spokeswoman for Maine Emergency Management Agency, said Friday that she doubts Maine will apply for federal disaster funds because of the blizzard. She said only a few thousand customers lost power on Thursday, far fewer than during the Oct. 30 wind and rain storm. Earlier this week Maine was approved for federal disaster relief for damage from that storm.

“Outage-wise, it was pretty low,” Faloon said of Thursday’s blizzard. “Today, the big issues are snow removal and then the extremely cold temperatures” forecast for the weekend.

BDN reporters Jake Bleiberg and Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.

Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like