2018-03-09 / Front Page

Towns assess damage; another storm looms

Double tap
By Duke Harrington Staff Writer


A wave breaches the sea wall at Middle Beach in Kennebunk during Friday’s nor’easter. (Kevin A. Byron photo) A wave breaches the sea wall at Middle Beach in Kennebunk during Friday’s nor’easter. (Kevin A. Byron photo) Local officials continue to assess damage from last week’s coastal flooding.

The March 4 nor’easter reportedly knocked out power to 1.8 million electricity customers across New England and damaged dozens of homes in York County. Locally, the damage was confined largely to Kennebunk.

Kennehunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith said Monday that in her town, issues were largely cosmetic, in the form of debris left washed up on roads.

“In general, for us it was a clean-up event,” she said, noting that there was “quite a bit of flooding” on Pier Road at Goose Rocks Beach, as well as on Ocean Avenue and in Dock Square. Government Wharf was submerged, but has been checked and given a clean bill of health.

The main concern at this point, Smith said, is not road washouts, but assessing just how much sand was carried out to sea by the storm surge.


Kennebunk public works crews set up road blocks at Kennebunk Beach following last week’s nor’easter. Another nor’easter, this time packing snow, was forecast to arrive late Wednesday, March 7. (Kevin A. Byron photo) Kennebunk public works crews set up road blocks at Kennebunk Beach following last week’s nor’easter. Another nor’easter, this time packing snow, was forecast to arrive late Wednesday, March 7. (Kevin A. Byron photo) “I think the other issue is that of the beach. The question is if the dunes will need any restoration,” Smith said.

So far as is known, damage to homes was “minor,” Smith said, although the Hurricane restaurant, reportedly still cleaning up from a flooding event in January, found itself under water again.

Damage in Kennebunk was much more extensive. Most of the buildings affected by the storm are vacation homes.

“Surprisingly, we have not had many reports of damage at town hall,” Town Manager Mike Pardue said on Monday. “But as we were out surveying the area this afternoon, we saw a lot of license plates from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey. So, I think owners are aware.”

Beach Avenue and parts of Surf Lane, Peninsula Drive and Boothby Road remained closed to traffic Monday, due in large part to a break in the sea wall near Middle Beach.

“A lot of water came right through that breach and worked its way up Boothby Road and into Peninsula Drive and Surf Lane, into homes and flooding basements,” Pardue said. “And, of course, every 12 hours (with the next high tide) the waters come back.”

Pardue said the remaining high water has made it hard to determine to what degree, if any, various roads may be undermined. Test borings will be done once the waters recede, Pardue said. What is known for sure is that about 125 feet “at least” of sidewalk along Gooch’s Beach, near the Seaside Inn, has been damaged by the tides.

Pardue said other damage that can be seen includes an area at the corner of Boothby Road and Beach Avenue, while the garage of one impacted home in the area has had its walls torn away. Jersey barriers have been put up to impede wave action until the sea wall can be repaired, Pardue said.

Pardue said town officials are working on cost estimates for damage repair but, on Tuesday morning noted, “I believe it is simply too early for us to offer an estimate as we have not yet been able to perform appropriate damage assessment.”

“This is a process that takes some time and includes other agencies such as the Maine Department of Transportation,” Pardue said. “We have requested a DOT inspection of a bridge that leads to Parsons Beach.”

Pardue said a drone would be used to make an aerial flyover of Kennebunk’s coastal areas late Tuesday afternoon, ”weather permitting.”

“This bird’s-eye view should prove a helpful tool,” he said.

“It was a devastating storm for us. It is going to be costly,” Pardue said. “But the good news is that no one has been hurt. Our police and emergency services personnel performed admirably.

“We may be able to recover some of our repair costs depending on what FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) does,” Pardue said. “We may be able to obtain some additional dollars to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, as it does appear to be the kind of thing that is happening with greater frequency, but for right now, what we know is that there is another storm on the way.

“Right now, all of our thoughts are on preparing for the next nor’easter,” Pardue said.

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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