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Our Working Waterfront: Storm Recovery and Resilience Resources

From the Town of Stonington Blog

Jan 18th, 2024

Posted by: Linda Nelson, Economic & Community Development Director

Fishing is not just Stonington’s economic base.

Fishing is not just a job.

Fishing is Stonington’s culture. It’s our way of life.

This way of life is dependent on the infrastructure of our working waterfront: the most diversified and best in the State, spanning Stonington Harbor, Webb Cove, and Burnt Cove.

Stonington’s working waterfront took a one-two punch last week from the January 10 and January 13 storms.

The unprecedented storm surge created by sea level rise and warming, astronomically high tides, and intense winds driving directly onshore damaged the Town’s commercial fish pier; public landing; and fire station; Main Street properties; the shipyard; and the essential wharves, floats, and equipment of our licensed dealers and harvesters. Even wharves that appear fine may have broken underpinnings or loose or missing pilings that substantially weaken or make them inoperational in the face of upcoming storms.

These more intense and frequent storms are creating a lot of life-changing hurt.

Thankfully, our way of life is also resilient. And a lot of that resilience is possible due to the way our community members help one another.

What are the next steps? How do you and Stonington get the help we need?

Once life safety and structures are secured, the next very crucial step is to report the damages. This is to ensure the State can request the maximum of Federal aid, through FEMA, to support our recovery and are essential to determining what type of relief is available.

On January 11, Governor Janet Mills declared a state of civil emergency for all Maine’s coastal counties. Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Sankey, with whom the Town has been actively working on public safety issues of the bridge and causeway for the past two years, provided the following information from Governor Janet Mills’ office.

Individuals, organizations and businesses (including commercial fishing and farming) that have experienced damages as result of the recent storms should report all damage by calling 2-1-1 from any Maine telephone or go to the website, These reports are due by January 18 for the January 10 storm; and January 22 for the January 13 storm. It can take up to three months for FEMA to process and release federal aid to the state and towns.

Since reporting damage to the state is not the same as applying for personal assistance or reimbursement, please also be in touch with your insurance agent. The new Maine Flood Resources and Assistance Hub provides reporting directions as well as other information at

The Town’s website also has links to these reporting forms and will provide anyone with support in completing them: For additional help, contact Monique Coombs at Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association,

Disasters, storm damage, and losses of property and potential income are stressful. The Disaster Distress Helpline is available 24-hours daily for anyone in need. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor. 

Including our close relationship with Director Sankey at HCEMA, Stonington is super lucky to have other highly skilled people leading the charge for assistance. Town Manager Kathleen Billings worked throughout the weekend and has been in direct contact with our Congressional delegation and the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Commissioner Patrick Kelliher, who will be in Stonington for a site visit this week. Our local selectboard members have hands-on experience with, knowledge, and ownership of our working waterfront and has held an emergency meeting. And on Tuesday, January 16 the Town participated in a meeting with Kelliher, Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner Heather Johnson.

For further information on the long-term impacts of climate change on our fishing community, and the plans, reports, and actions the Town has and continues to take, you can view a recording of our December 6 Talk of the Towns public conversation on this exact topic at, or listen on demand to a follow-up conversation on WERU 89.9 FM radio at

The Town is here to help. We’ll be providing weekly updates on our website, email, etc. Contact us with questions and concerns at any time, via email at; by stopping by the Town office; or by calling 207-367-2351. 

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