NewsHistoric Maine fishing shacks washed away by record tide

Historic Maine fishing shacks washed away by record tide

Historic Maine fishing shacks washed away by record tide
Images source: © GETTY | Andrew Lichtenstein
6:24 AM EST, January 18, 2024

In a historic weather event, three fishing shacks dating back to the 1800s, were washed away into Casco Bay from Willard Beach in South Portland, Maine. This occurred during a record high tide, measured at 14.57 feet, the highest since 1912.

The shacks, significant to the community, had previously survived various storms, including one in 1978, which destroyed two other shacks. Resident Michelle Erskine, who captured this heart-wrenching moment, lamented the loss of these iconic structures that had been a backdrop for numerous photographs and memories, including her son’s senior pictures​​​​​​.

The tide level surpassed the previous record set during a blizzard in 1978, standing at 14.17 feet. The National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cempa highlighted that this event resulted from a storm surge amplifying the month's highest tide. This surge not only claimed the shacks but also led to flooding in nearby areas, affecting homes in Old Orchard Beach, Kennebunkport, Maine, and Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The impact was further felt in destroying other historic buildings and necessitating several rescues along the coast​​​​.

In response to the tragedy, the South Portland Historical Society expressed hope, revealing plans made last year with architects and engineers to document the shacks in anticipation of such an event. They are now calling for donations to rebuild these iconic structures. The loss of these shacks is physical and emotional, as they were symbols of South Portland's rich fishing history dating back to the early 1700s. The city and its residents mourn this significant loss of their cultural heritage​​​​​​.

This event serves as a poignant reminder of the power of nature and the fragility of historical landmarks. The community's efforts to rebuild and preserve its history underscore the importance of these structures in the collective memory and identity of South Portland.

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