2012-11-02 / Front Page

Residents reflect on storm’s aftermath

Common refrain: It could have been much worse
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

As Donald Googins watched the local and national television news about the impact of Hurricane Sandy, especially in New Jersey and New York City – one of the hardest hit areas – he was glad a similar scenario was not playing out outside his Pine Point home.

Googins, who has lived in the Pine Point area all his life, said he has weathered many severe storms in his Avenue 7 home, which overlooks the confluence of the Scarborough River and the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Sandy, however, was not one of them.

“We got hard winds and the house shook, but I’ve seen a lot worse,” he said, recalling a hurricane in 1938 and a storm in 1978 that had more of an indelible impact on the area.

After waiting out the storm, which hit Maine the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 29 with rain and 60 mph wind gusts, Googins and his wife, Emma, surveyed the Pine Point area the next morning.

“We just got back from a ride around Pine Point,” Googins said Tuesday, Oct. 30. “We had no damage whatsoever that I could tell.”

He said there was minor flooding in the parking lot of the Clam Bake and the ocean was still a little violent, but overall the neighborhood got out of the storm unscathed.

Roger Chabot, president of the Higgins Beach Association, said it was a similar story in the Higgins Beach neighborhood.

“There were some high tides and wave action, but not to the point where it went over the wall by the breaker,” Chabot said. “It held pretty well.”

Chabot said there was just minor damage to structures at Higgins Beach and nothing that was considered serious.

“We are in good shape,” Chabot said on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve seen times where people have lost parts of roofs and siding.”

“All in all,” he added, “we were pretty lucky.”

The most lingering impact for the storm, he said, was some erosion on the eastside of the beach by the Spurwink River and the fact that his street – Houghton Street – was still in the black as of 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday. The vast majority of the rest of the Higgins Beach neighborhood, he said, had power.

Linda Woodard, the director of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center, said the nature center also had very little damage.

“I was down there yesterday at high tide. The nature center was an island. The entire parking lot was flooded,” Woodard said on Tuesday.

Woodard said she and a team of volunteers began preparing for the hurricane and closing down the center for the year during the annual fall cleanup of the marsh Saturday, Oct. 27.

“We really worked hard to get everything up high inside the center, so there was no damage in that regard,” she said.

Woodard said because Hurricane Sandy was a fast-moving storm and didn’t linger long in the area, the potential impact it could have had was reduced. By Tuesday morning, she noted, the flooding in the parking lot had subsided.

“Usually when we have a big storm and flooding, it is that way for a day or two, but with this one, (the flooding) had really subsided the next day,” Woodard said.

Scarborough Fire Chief B. Michael Thurlow said as a whole the storm made less of an impact on the town than he had expected.

“We really fared better than expected,” Thurlow said. “At the peak of it, there were 600 residents without power. That was significantly lower than we thought it would be based on speeds of the wind and the number of calls we dealt with.”

Thurlow, who is also in charge of the town’s emergency response program, said his department and emergency responders were busy “all night” fielding calls from residents.

“We responded to a number of calls about electrical hazards and downed trees, but nothing too serious,” he said.

Downed power lines and trees, he said, caused a number of streets to be temporarily closed.

“(Central Maine Power) and public works did an excellent job keeping up with calls in the afternoon and evening hours,” Thurlow said.

Scarborough Police Capt. David Grover said CMP continues its efforts restoring power. He said there were 556 customers without power as of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

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