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A 2017 Westport Island Halloween by Candlelight

October 30’s winds take down trees and bring darkness…

The storm of October 30 downed more than 60 trees on town roads alone — not counting the state portion of the Main Road and private roads — and downed scores more throughout the island. With about ten electrical poles broken, wires on the ground and some wires stretched by broken and uprooted trees and pulled off of houses, residents woke to no power, no cable, few landlines and spotty internet.

The good news: no one was hurt, neighbors are helping neighbors and Central Maine Power (CMP) did its initial assessment of damage on Monday evening — when its crews ensured one lane was “safely” open on the Main Road at Fox Run, 200 Main Road and the Squire Tarbox Inn where trees brought down the wires and blocked the roadway — proceed with caution. The bad news, we are at the bottom of the triage list for power restoration with no critical services and a small, residential-only population. CMP states we should have substantial power restoration by the end of the weekend. Crews will come in numbers to Lincoln County today; although they are not yet scheduled for the major work needed on Westport. Time Warner/Spectrum and Fairpoint will not be able to do restoration work until CMP restores its poles and lines.

A warming center is open daily until 8:30 pm at the Westport Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) where residents can warm up, charge their electronic devices, take a shower, get water, use the microwave and kitchen facilities and connect. The WVFD’s landline is operational: 882-6806, or you can call the Fire Chief directly with questions: 460-0367.

Thanks to private citizens and D&G Cromwell, all roads are navigable. East Shore Road is open on both sides, but is still blocked in the 200 block. Although roadways are navigable, they are not necessarily safe. Be cautious of trees on wires, wires in the roadway and hanging branches.

You may see the island’s Emergency Management Assistance personnel out and about collecting photographs of damage. Lincoln County has also asked that we collect pictures of damages to private property. If you have photographs of damage to your private residences, structures or vehicles, please send them to wagnerhiggins11@gmail.com or townclerk@westportisland.us and provide any details that you can. The County is in the process of compiling documentation of damages for the state’s request for a Disaster Declaration.

Regardless of the power situation, we will have the State election at the Town Hall on Tuesday, November 7, from 8 am to 8 pm. Today is the last day to get a regular absentee ballot. If you need one, call the Town Clerk at 380-4476 and arrangements will be made to get you a ballot. Absentee ballots are only available after today for Special Circumstances. Call the Town Clerk if you have questions.

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After the Rain: An Update

East Shore Road is now passable and has been reopened. Sortwell and Junction Roads have been repaired. MDOT responded to view the beaver encampment on the Main Road; they cleared the culvert debris. The waters have receded, and with the exception of gutter erosion on West Shore Road, Baker Road, and some other gravel roadways, life is back to normal.

Some finish work on the roads — culverts, grading, and paving await (budgetary discussion)…

A representative from the state emergency management office will be viewing the damaged areas with town officials later this month.

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It’s a Rainy Day in the Neighborhood

Westport Volunteer Fire Fighters, Road Commissioner Garry Cromwell and crew, Selectmen, and emergency management officers have been out and about today marking, monitoring, and documenting water damage to the roads. East Shore Road has sustained the worst damage.

Following are the areas where caution and good sense are needed:

East Shore Road, which is closed between Gary Webber’s Hill and Log Cabin Road;
Willis Point Road;
Junction Road;
Doggett Road;
Main Road by the beaver encampment adjacent to Oak Run Road;
Baker Road; and
Sortwell Road

If you have additional road or storm damage to report, call 911 — or if you have damage to document, email: wagnerhiggins11@gmail.com

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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.

Patriot’s Day Storm: Five Year Anniversary

Today is Patriot’s Day, which New Englanders marked by the running of the 116th Boston Marathon. Weather: beautiful and dry — heat advisories were posted for runners. (We cheered Westport runner, Shanna Greene, who completed the race in 3:48:23 [an 8:43 mile pace — Shanna, you are my hero!]). Five years ago today — weather: violent winds and rain. Westport Island braced against what is now known as the Patriot’s Day Storm.

National Weather Service data states that the high tide recorded in Portland, ME, in the late morning hours of April 16, 2007, was 13.28 feet, the 7th biggest tide on record; 30 foot waves ripped at buoys and caused damage to personal property; and the storm tide was higher than the storm tide during the “Perfect Storm” in October, 1991. The three-day rainfall in Portland from April 15 – 17 was 5.6″, one inch above normal for the entire month of April. Although Westport did not experience the heavy flooding of southern coastal areas, heavy rain and peak wind gusts reaching 53 miles per hour on the Island resulted in extensive damage from downed trees and power lines. At various times throughout the storm, roads and driveways were blocked leaving residents stranded. The Island was without power for over a week.

Although I ventured out in the storm, because the dogs would not leave the stoop without me, I never saw the storming, ocean waves; because to see the shore, you had to pass beneath the screaming, falling trees.

Remembering the five year anniversary of the Patriot’s Day storm with a few pictures taken in the calm after the storm…

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Ode to the Road

Ode to the Road

State Route 1 – 4 – 4
No ordinary travel chore

Bump, bump, a thump

As babes cut teeth,
Cars cut squeaks

Bump, bump, a thump

Heavy duty struts
Can’t tough the Island ruts

Bump, bump, a thump

Windows shake and rattle
Atop the Main Road battle

Bump, bump, a thump

Chip your teeth?
Bump your head?
…Maybe…
…Shed a hubcap?

We’ll post an orange sign
And mark the dratted bump

Bump, bump, a thump

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