Rebuilding in Maine


Two back-to-back storms devastated the coast of Maine from Jan. 10-13, flooding shoreside infrastructure and tearing away many of the docks that serve the state’s commercial fisheries. Photos of damage from Kittery to Canada filled pages on FaceBook and Instagram.

Now that the waves have diminished and the tides receded, many communities face the prospect of cleaning up and rebuilding.

Milbridge, Maine, lost two important wharfs, Chipman’s Wharf and Jordan Pier. While Jordan is a public pier, Chipman’s Wharf is a private company that buys lobsters, scallops, and other seafood from local boats, and runs a fish market and gift shop.

According to Amity Chipman, a co-owner of the wharf, they sustained considerable damage from the storms and are trying to figure out how to get operational before the 2024 lobster season begins. “We’re buying some scallops right now,” Chipman says. “Our area is closed so the boats are mostly fishing down toward Cutler and Lubec and driving them here. But we lost 110 feet of wharf and the building on the end. We need to get that rebuilt by April.”

Chipman notes that the first thing they have had to do is clean up the mess. “There were 800 traps piled up under the wharf. People in the community came out to help us and they got that all cleaned up in a few hours, other people brought us food. One customer from Massachusetts called and ordered 10 pizzas for us.”

But the clean-up is just the beginning. Rebuilding and paying for it are the big challenges. “From what we’re hearing, this weather may be the new normal,” says Chipman. “So, we can’t just rebuild what we had; it has to be stronger.”

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