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Maine Coast, Businesses Heavily Damaged in January Storms

Two powerful storms devastated the coast of Maine in January. The first, on January 10, blew from the southeast, bringing rain, melting snow and storm surges close to high tide. The second, on January 13, produced fierce winds and storm surge coinciding with the astronomical high tide, enveloping wharfs, docks, commercial and residential buildings from Kittery to Eastport.

Greenhead Lobster in Stonington flooded badly in each storm in January. Photo by Allison Nelson.

The magnitude of damage is hard to fathom. Whether it was massive amounts of sand and stone moved from a southern Maine beach into adjacent roads and homes or stacks of traps and gear lifted and mangled by the unprecedented high tide, scarcely a property along the Maine coast escaped untouched.

At Bunker’s Harbor, a small building at the end of a wharf used as an office space was swept away by the ocean and landed ashore a quarter mile away. In Stonington the second storm created a storm surge four feet higher than the predicted tide, flooding the town’s fish pier, pulling wharves from pilings, and flooding nearby homes and businesses. Docks and buildings on Bailey Island in Harpswell suffered heavy damage. Wharves in many harbors remain standing but beneath are structurally unsound. The cost to repair the buildings, equipment, and homes and businesses damaged by the two consecutive storms will be in the millions.

Coastal towns and counties spent the weeks after the storms assessing the destruction and providing estimated financial damages to the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). MEMA collates the figures for each storm and sends the total to Governor Mills. The Governor, in turn, sends a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for assistance if the estimated costs are greater than the damage threshold set for the state.

In late January Maine’s Congressional Delegation wrote to FEMA in support of the Governor’s request that the agency consider the two storms as a single disaster for purposes of damage assessment. MEMA sent a letter to FEMA on January 17 stating that the damage thresholds have been met to qualify for FEMA assistance in all eight of Maine’s coastal counties.

Those affected by the two storms can find information at


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