Monthly Archives: May 2012

Westport Island, Maine Remembers

A Memorial Day thank you

A November 2011 study found that in the last decade, despite involvement in continuous military conflict, only one-half of one percent of adult Americans has served on active duty (“War and Sacrifice in the Post-911 Era”). The number of military veterans is closer to 10 percent.

ken shepherd woodcrafted flagMaine exceeds national averages when it comes to military service. According to the National Priorities Project Database, Maine ranked #1 in FY2010 for the number of recruits entering the military — 3.6 percent of youth aged 18-24. …And, according to census data, veterans account for a little over 12 percent of Maine’s population.

As distinctive, Maine must rank near the top in thanking those who serve. The Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington started “Wreaths Across America” which places wreaths each Christmas on gravestones at Arlington National Cemetary and other veteran’s cemetaries — last year laying 100,000 wreaths. Or, perhaps you’ve heard of the Freeport Flag Ladies who travel to Bangor and Pease International Airports to greet troops returning home; mail packages, cards, and letters to troops; and have stood along Main Street in Freeport holding flags to honor our troops each Tuesday since 911. …And, then there are the Maine Troop Greeters who day or night, rain or shine, greet troops returning from active duty through the Bangor International Airport. Since May of 2003, they have greeted over 6,400 flights, 1,300,000 service members, and 300 military dogs.

Westport Islanders have served our nation from the Revolutionary War through modern wars and into post-911 conflicts. And, on this Memorial weekend, the Island is dotted with its thank yous…

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“Your silent tents of green we deck
with fragrant flowers;
yours has the suffering been,
the memory shall be ours.”

from Decoration Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Westport Island and Rising Tides

Or, people who live on an island shouldn’t ignore rising waters…

If you stand on the shoreline of Westport, you’ll be standing 7 to 8.5 inches closer to the water than you would have been 100 years ago. If you’re standing at the water’s edge, your feet will likely be under water in years to come.

beagle viewing McCarty Cove waters

Investigating the rising tide

According to the Maine Geological Survey, the state’s average sea level increase in the last 100 years has been 8 to 8.5 inches – in Portland, ME (where there has been a tide gauge since 1912) there has been “only” a 7.3 inch increase. Maine scientists predict that the sea level will increase 2 feet over the next hundred years, which most scientists agree is a middle-of-the-road projection based on the current incremental height increases in coastal tides.

To illustrate the potential impact of a rising water level, nature sends an occasional storm our way with “super-sized” storm surges. The Patriot’s Day Storm in 2007 measured a 2.5 foot storm surge in Portland, and the “100-year” storm of 1978 measured a 4.2 foot storm surge in Portland.

Roger, as Director of Westport Island Emergency Management Assistance (EMA), has been appointed to Lincoln County’s Sea Level Rise – Coastal Hazards Project. This project will be using an aerial topographic-survey map done last year using “LIDAR” technology (Light Detection and Ranging, a laser measurement device). LIDAR maps are accurate within 6 inches and include layering details, such as infrastructure and buildings that will allow modeling of the impact of 2-, 3-, and 6-foot storm surges — kind of a create your own disaster movie, so you can figure out how to outsmart a super-sized tidal surge.

Information gleaned from this project will help Lincoln County towns plan and prepare for “the storms of today, and the tides of tomorrow.” According to Robert Faunce, Lincoln County Planner, vulnerable areas in Westport include: low-lying coastal roads, causeways, and shore land structures.

Data from the Sea Level Rise Project will help to target areas that can be “hardened” against future damage or destruction. Target hardening strategies for higher tide levels might include: expanding road culverts; raising roads; relocating water treatment and purification equipment; installing breakwaters; and revising planning ordinances for new structures. Additionally, as of November 2011, Westport residents can now purchase federally-backed flood insurance to protect their homes.

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For more information, see the Lincoln County Sea Level Rise — Coastal Hazard Study.

Westport Island Cleanup Day

And, some musings on roadside debris…

Saturday, May 5: Derby Day, Cinco de Mayo, eve of the Super Moon — and the Westport Island Cleanup. The Conservation Commission has sponsored this annual event for the last five plus years. Twenty-five volunteers collected enough roadside debris to fill two pickup beds, with time left to catch the Derby, celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and relax in the light of the Super Moon.

Picking roadside trash brings back memories. I spent paid hours picking trash in detective assignments in Vice and Elder Financial Crimes. There’s a lot to be learned from trash. Cleanup day nuggets, included:

Most “hmmm” item of trash: a fully endorsed, un-cashed check written by a non-Island person to a non-Island company — such an item might typically come from a mailbox or other theft.

Best reminder to “secure personal information by shredding” item: an ATM receipt with a Credit Union’s name, the full name of the deposit holder, a partial account number, and financial information.

Most “reasonable hypothesis drawn from trash” in my assigned area: persons who drink beverages on the go, and are most likely to be careless with their trash, drink either Dunkin Donuts coffee or some kind of Budweiser Beer.

Best reminder to follow your mother’s admonition “not to leave stuff lying around”: a fleece-lined hoodie that an early morning dog walker advised had been sitting on the side of the road since crews cut branches for CMP some months ago.

Best “reuse” items of trash: parts of colorful buoys that make great garden accents.

Until next year…

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