Blog Archives

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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What a Difference a Day (or five) Makes…

Welcome spring!

Today, spring bliss. Welcome to the greening of Maine, the promise of summer and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens tulip bloom! There were 80 degree temperatures in some parts of Maine today after a record 4.5 inches of snow in Caribou and 5 inches of snow in New Sweden and Caswell, Maine just five days ago.

Westport Island did not escape last week’s unexpected spring snow as our resident osprey will attest from atop their new island home. Thankfully, snowy memories of last week’s slipping and sliding along island roadways are now a faint memory. But we were left with some interesting visions of winter unwilling to yield to the onward march of spring…

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Blizzard 2015 on Westport Island

Better snow and wind than no power…

crow on branches in blizzardIt wasn’t a good day to be a bird or an “essential” employee, but all in all, life could have been much worse.

In my mind, it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood — fluffy white snow that didn’t weigh down trees and wires; wind that blew snow in foggy waves — but didn’t blow trees onto power lines.

The schools were closed, the state was closed, the county was closed, Bath Iron Works was closed, the post office was closed, pretty much everything, including the Westport Island Town Office, was closed. The closures brought fond memories of what it was like to be a kid with a snow day. All that, and a bag of chips — we had heat and lights.

tractor coming up a hill blowing snowPer Lincoln County Emergency Management: as of noon today, the storm pivoted unpredictably east, so many were spared the worst — although given that we are east, we will probably end up with about 24-30 inches of fresh snow.

Further into the Atlantic, winds and waves have been higher. Matinicus Isle reported gusts up to 67 mph as of noon. Monhegan had sustained gusts of 40-45 mph, its weather meter flew the coop during nighttime gusts, and it was down to one operable plow — but they were still seeing a glass half full.

Westport Island did not have downed trees, power has maintained, and it’s likely to be pretty in the morning…

A Micro Westport Bird Count

On what was not a good day to be a bird…

Once again, this was the weekend for Cornell’s Great Backyard Bird Count. What a difference a year makes…

Last year, the Sunday of the count was a February-dream-come-true: blue sky, sunshine, an early robin and lots of other birds soaking up the day. This year, swirling snow and icy temperatures equaled: bird scarcity. The birds proved to be a more intelligent life form than me – they stayed out of the blowing cold — and I, too, retreated after a couple of hours.

The sightings:
A lone eider duck bobbing on the Sheepscot River at the mouth of McCarty Cove;
Three crows fleeing the feeders when psycho-puppy bounded across the backyard snow;
A dark-eyed junco at the thistle feeder;
A mourning dove taking refuge on and under the deck; and
A blue jay working the feeders.

A Westport Week in Winter

Looking Back on Westport Island 2012

Another year of passages….

On a civic note: We voted to consider withdrawal from our supervisory school union after a contentious debate; and voted to adopt a school funding formula more advantageous to taxpayers. Almost 80% of registered voters turned out to vote in the presidential election – under the halo of new lights in the Old Town Hall. The majority joined the nation in re-electing President Barack Obama and joined fellow Mainers in sending Independent Angus King to Washington.

Thanks to taxpayers, the Wright Landing Committee, and professional facilitators, we have an awesome boat ramp and jetty. …And, we have a bodacious new fire truck — which has been blessed, as we have been with a dedicated cadre of fire department volunteers who do more than most realize.

On a cosmic note: We had a bird’s eye view of the “super moon” on May 6 — just 222,000 miles away; and, we thankfully survived the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21.

On a caring note: Westport Islanders rallied around Jimmy Cromwell to help pay medical bills from a debilitating fall at his worksite. We grieved with our neighbors who lost loved ones this year: each loss rending in some way our Island fabric.

On a commercial note: A bad year for lobstermen with prices hitting new lows. It was a better year for Judy Hughes’ MicroMainea whose microgreens now adorn the dishes of prestigious Midcoast chefs.

On a climatic note: East Shore Road washed out and was then repaired after a “super rain” on June 3. Donna Curry’s property survived a microburst on August 3. And, the Island took a glancing hit from Hurricane Sandy on October 29.

On a contemplative note: The robins and the osprey came and went; and the Main Road beavers left us – hopefully on a jet plane to a better life.

On a congratulatory note: Best birthday wishes went to centenarian Priscilla Caskins, and an Island’s appreciation went to Ruth Nelson for a Spirit of America award recognizing her volunteer contributions to a better Island.

On a celebratory note: The “Paving” brought us a smooth ride back and forth to the mainland. The History Committee received a grant to digitize historical photographs and documents for community access to selected historical holdings. And…We had some fun!

Westport Island: Looking Back at Hurricane Sandy

Some lost power for 20 minutes here…an hour there…and others were without power for the better part of two days. A minor inconvenience compared to the devastation suffered by some neighbors in coastal New York and New Jersey.

Now, it’s time to be thankful for our electrical power and to say thank you to: those members of the Fire Department who spent the heart of Tuesday night cutting downed trees off utility wires and roads; Earl Grant for spending all night trying to keep roads cleared and safely marked; and Central Maine Power (CMP) and their assisting power crews for efforts to get our power back on.

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