Along Maine’s stunning coastline, vulnerable communities wrestle with the inevitable rise of the sea caused by the warming ocean. Aerial photographer Alex MacLean and reporter Kate Cough found that each community has a different strategy to prepare and adapt.
Wedged between sandy ocean beaches and an estuary, nearly 1,500 buildings in Wells could be inundated by 2050.
Members of a citizens group take matters into their own hands, measuring tides around the island to gauge the impacts of coastal flooding.
The town risks saltwater intrusion in its wells, and also faces a longer-term threat to the vital roads onto the island.
The city’s terminals are crucial to Maine’s energy needs, but the storage tanks, roads and rail lines are all at risk as the ocean rises.
Two feet of sea level rise coupled with a storm like the infamous Blizzard of 1978 would be enough to submerge most homes in Camp Ellis.
By 2100, a storm surge at high tide could put much of Commercial Street under six to 10 feet of water.
For years, the town has debated what to do about the causeway that supports busy Route 1. Opening up the dike underneath would submerge land upriver from Machias to Marshfield.
“Sometimes the rain is damaging enough. We have to close it down and have it come to be assessed by an engineer, and we have had to have work done to it.”
One report found that $16 million worth of Camden’s waterfront property would be at risk if the sea level rises one foot.
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