The businesses hit hard (and who escaped) Lincolnville Beach’s storm surge

Posted:  Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:30am
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LINCOLNVILLE BEACH — On January 4, right around noon, an astronomical high tide coupled with a super moon and high winds resulting from a blizzard surged up Lincolnville Beach, flooding the Lobster Pound parking lot and a stretch of Route 1 up to the doorsteps of a number of small businesses. At its highest point, the water was well above six inches. Some businesses were able to avoid disaster; others didn’t get so lucky.

The Beach Store sustained the most damage as seawater poured in under the glass door. Without a buffer of concrete steps, like some of the neighboring businesses, the entire floor was covered in nearly six inches of water, almost up to the second step of the short stairway in the back of the store.

“The water actually moved the pizza oven a half inch,” said said Sarah Lord, who with her husband, Rod Lord, were running the store on owner Diane Lord’s day off.  “We had to have the gas inspector in to make sure the everything was still okay to use.”

Several of the Beach Store’s commercial coolers were hit with electrical failure when the seawater damaged the compressors.

“We had to completely replace the ice cream cooler, but not we’re sure about whether insurance is going to cover any of this,” said Sarah Lord. “The coolers are actually owned by companies [to the products} and they actually replace the units.” 

The good news is the Beach Store is still operating and several of the coolers are back to working. A yellow mop bucket in the back of the store is the only indication that it had been flooded.

Luckier still were the two businesses on either side of the Beach Store. Kathleen Farnsworth, Secretary for Maine Artisans, inspected the building that houses a co-op for artists this week and said by phone, “We’ve looked everywhere and there is no sign of any storm surge damage.”

Dwight Wass, owner of Lincolnville Fine Art Gallery, watched the whole thing unfold from his window. He said: “The water came in to the roads like a mini tsunami. We’re at the lowest part of the beach and I just sat right here, watching about four inches of water roll right in. But, it only came up to the first step outside, so we didn’t have any water damage inside. The problem was, every time a car tried to drive through the floodwater, it would send another wave to slap up at the door and we got a little under the door from that, but not much.”

The water came in a half hour before high tide at 12:08 p.m. and receded a half hour after low tide. According to Wass, the D.O.T. arrived about 15 minutes after the storm surge spilled into the street, along with the sheriff and fire department. Before that point, with no one cordoning off Route One, cars were still trying to drive through the floodwaters. A postal truck even stalled out at one point.

To complicate matters, huge chunks of ice were also drifting along Route 1.

“Some of the ice chunks were hitting the cars going through,” said Wass. “Those things were heavy; a hundred pounds. I came down the next day with my plow truck and it was all I could do to push them away.”

Nanette Gionfriddo, who owns Beyond The Sea bookstore, has closed her shop for the season. After inspecting the damage, she said, “We had some water in the back, which only damaged the rug.  It popped a circuit and killed our many strings of Christmas lights that we typically leave on until the end of February, but the café furniture is still in good shape.  Dwight and my neighbor, Marilyn, had a very interesting day as they were both there when it happened. There were quite the stories of huge ice floes from the marsh coming up the driveways towards Route One. Ice bergs on Route One!”

On Lincolnville Beach, the Whale’s Tooth posted photos of the flooding, which covered its parking lot, but their Facebook post indicated that they hadn’t sustained any damage.

 The Lobster Pound looked as though it had been floating in the parking lot. Attempts to reach the owners have been unsuccessful, so there’s no news on whether the interior sustained any damage.

Besides Lincolnville Beach, the high tide flooded harbor front roads on Vinalhaven. Likewise, Buttermilk Lane, in South Thomaston, and the Rackliffe Island causeway in St. George were submerged for a time around the astronomic high tide.

Related story: Astronomical high tides coupled with blizzard floods Midcoast, island roads


Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com