Storm Surge: Scenes from Last Winter’s Devastating Storms

In the span of a few months, a series of fierce storms reshaped the Maine landscape, battered beloved landmarks, and called waterfront communities’ futures into question in frightening fashion. While most of us hunkered down, a handful of intrepid photographers ventured out in the thick of the weather, and here, we’ve collected a selection of their shots in order to document the storms’ force and impact.

Pine Point Road, in Scarborough, flooded on January 13, 2024.

Above: Pine Point Road, in Scarborough, was submerged on January 13. Photo by Mat Trogner

Photographed by Jack Bjorn, Mat Trogner, Dave Dostie, Jack Sullivan, Ben Williamson, and Gin Majka
From our May 2024 issue

In December, unprecedented rains brought flooding to western and central Maine, while strong winds did additional damage. Left: in Augusta, winds ripped scaffolding off the state government’s Burton M. Cross Office Building. Right: debris snagged against a footbridge in downtown Gardiner, where the swollen Cobbosseecontee Stream and Kennebec River flooded Arcade Street with nearly five feet of water. Photos by Dave Dostie

Left: a view across the surging Kennebec in December, as the river flooded Augusta’s Front Street, inundating downtown businesses. Right: in Vassalboro, a tree crew worked to clear a road while the storm still raged. Photos by Dave Dostie

On January 10, the destruction shifted to the coast, with especially high tides, heavy rain, and winds hitting all at once. Left: a fish shack in Stonington only barely hung on in the high surf. Photo by Jack Sullivan. Right: Ram Island Ledge Light, marking the channel that leads into Portland Harbor, withstood massive waves. Photo by Benjamin Williamson

On January 13, only three days after the previous storm, the ocean again exacted a heavy toll. Clockwise from top left: a Southport house previously owned by Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in 1939’s Wizard of Oz, got swamped by the swelling tide. Photo by Benjamin Williamson. Waves lashed Spring Point Ledge Light, in South Portland. Photo by Jack Bjorn. Crowds gathered at Cape Elizabeth’s Portland Head Light to experience the strength of the storm. Photo by Dave Dostie

Hardly any pocket of the Maine coast was spared during the January 13 storm. Clockwise from top left: a fishing boat was tossed against the rocks at Trundy Point, in Cape Elizabeth. Photo by Mat Trogner. Farther up the coast, the Cuckolds Light suffered significant damage. Photo by Benjamin Williamson. The iconic fish shacks that had been at South Portland’s Willard Beach since the late 1800s were pulled out to sea. Photo by Jack Bjorn

Left: On Mount Desert Island’s quiet side, in Southwest Harbor, Seawall Road skirts between the ocean and a salt pond. The January 13 storm overran the road and ripped away a section of asphalt. Seawall Road leads to the Ship Harbor Trail, which was knee-deep in water. Photos by Gin Majka. Right: Pemaquid Point Light normally sits high above the waterline, but that didn’t stop waves from busting through the walls of the 19th-century bellhouse, strewing bricks across the property. Photo by Benjamin Williamson

On March 10, yet another storm arrived. Again, it coincided with an unusually high tide. Left: on Harpswell’s Bailey Island, the working waterfront wound up underwater. Right: even though they sit well above the water, homes near Giant’s Stairs, a popular walking trail, were drenched by the spray of breaking waves. Photos by Benjamin Williamson

Left, top right, middle right: the March storm was especially hard on low-lying Lincolnville Beach, a small downtown district, a popular spot for summer sunbathers, and the site of the terminal for the Islesboro ferry. Bottom right: a little farther up Route 1, Marshall Wharf Brewing Company’s harborfront taproom, in Belfast, was anything but dry. Photos by Gin Majka

May 2024, Down East Magazine

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