Harpswell, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Susan Collins toured the aftermath of last week’s storm that left severe damage to Maine’s coastline and working waterfronts in Harpswell and Bailey Island. Senator Collins was joined by fishermen and town officials from the greater Harpswell area as they toured multiple sites with a pressing need for federal assistance in rebuilding.
“It was so important to view firsthand the destruction that was left behind in the wake of recent storms,” said Senator Collins. “From longstanding local businesses, to private properties, to public waterfronts, these storms have negatively impacted so many in our state. As Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I am committed to working with federal agencies and our state officials to ensure that support for rebuilding can be promptly delivered to as many of those affected as possible.”
On January 10th and January 13th, two storms battered the entire Maine coast, including Harpswell. The storm seen on the 10th brought a storm surge of nearly three feet. It damaged the town landing at Potts Point, sunk at least one boat, grounded two others, washed away docks and piers, damaged homes and buildings, downed trees and power lines, and flooded the causeway connecting South Harpswell to Potts Point, stranding residents. Harbormaster Paul Plummer described the damage done as some of the worst he had ever seen.
Subsequently, the storm seen on the 13th combined winds exceeding 30 miles per hour with the astronomical high tide of the month. The more recent storm also rendered the town landing a total loss, and destroyed the newly-finished Giant Steps Park Trail on Bailey Island that was completed in December at a cost of nearly $10,000 to the town.
This week in Washington, Senator Collins met with a group of fishermen and women, including members of the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, at her office in Washington. During the meeting, the fishermen and women discussed the damage to Maine’s working waterfronts following recent storms. The group included fishermen and women from Friendship, Harpswell, Saco, South Bristol, Southwest Harbor, Swan’s Island, Portland, and Cape Elizabeth.
Last November, Senator Collins introduced the Working Waterfront Preservation Act. This bipartisan bill would authorize a $20 million grant program at the Economic Development Administration to help municipal and state governments, nonprofit organizations, and participants in maritime industries purchase or improve working waterfront property in coastal states – supporting the commercial fishing, aquaculture, boatbuilding, and for-hire recreational fishing industries that are so vital to the culture, heritage, and economies of seaside towns and cities.