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Destruction from storm expected to cost millions for repairs in Harpswell

Posted on January 17, 2024

Midcoast Maine has suffered extensive damage as Saturday’s storm battered ruin to towns like Harpswell, New Harbor, Georgetown, and Boothbay Harbor.

Between the homes, businesses, and commercial fishery industry infrastructure damaged by Saturday’s tides, Harpswell’s Emergency Management Director Mike Drake estimated they suffered millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

“The commercial fishing industry down here was just decimated. People lost their boats, they lost their wharfs, they lost traps. Commercial fishery really took a hit,” Drake said.

Drake said there’s not much damage to town infrastructure like roads and bridges. However, he said homes and businesses have significant damage. He said Sundrenched, a restaurant on Bailey Island, has some of the worst damage he’s seen.

“I was definitely, definitely very angry for about a day or so. But, you know, what do you do?” Zac Leeman, who runs the restaurant, said. “I’ve been saying it since the start, I mean, it’s not like you can square up to it in and fight it off.”

Leeman said the restaurant is still structurally sound, but the tides destroyed the property surrounding it. The boat house, pier, and seating area were all washed away.

“The biggest loss is the nostalgia,” he said.

The property has been a constant in his life since childhood, and it’s even where he had his first job. To see the property like this, he said, is disheartening.

“I feel for everyone around us. There’s a lot of people that have their entire life and circle down here,” Leeman said.

Leeman was inside the restaurant at high tide and said the water reached a foot above the floor. Fortunately, he said, there was no seepage into the restaurant.

“It felt like there was a thunderstorm going on directly underneath my feet with the waves crashing up against the bottom of the building,” Leeman said.

Drake recommends any homes and businesses that were flooded with salt water should get inspections for their electrical and gas systems because salt water can corrode wires.

Drake and harbor master Paul Plummer were documenting damage Monday morning on Bailey Island’s new Giant Stairs Park trail. Plummer said the town just completed the new trail in December, costing nearly $10,000.

“You can see the landscaping mat is underneath it and all the crushed stones are pushed right up and off the trail,” Plummer said.

A repair project to add to a growing list as Drake and Plummer visit different sites checking out what needs to be repaired.

“It’s a huge headache,” Plummer said.



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