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Maine coast walloped by flooding amid rainfall, astronomical tides

Just days after a powerful storm ravaged the Maine coast, another round of heavy winds and rain landed a second blow to the state Saturday.

The winds, with gusts up to 60 mph, combined with rain and an astronomical high tide caused significant flooding, inundating low-lying areas that are still trying to recover from damage caused earlier in the week.

In Portland, the high tide broke a record set back in 1978. Meteorologist Michael Cempa at the National Weather Service in Gray says around noon it reached 14.57 feet, above the record 14.17 feet set more than four decades ago and slightly higher than expected.

The high water combined with storm surge led to flooding of several downtown piers. The Maine State Pier, Portland Pier and Union Wharf are all closed.

Jessica Grondin, a spokesperson for the city of Portland, says multiple streets are also underwater.

"This storm is way worse than Wednesday's," Grondin said.

Earlier in the week she said there were just ten entries for flooded streets after a wind and rainstorm. By early Saturday afternoon there were more than 30. Portland police are urging people not to go out if they don't have to.

Farther south, in York County, flooding was causing major problems in several areas. Kennebunk Fire and Rescue posted on Facebook that they were unable to respond anywhere along the beach.

"Need people to stay inside and remain in a second or third floor," the post said.

And in Kennebunkport, Central Maine Power shut off power to Dock Square buildings because of the risk of "water, electrical and fire hazards." Residents are also being asked to avoid Ocean Avenue, Goose Rocks Beach, Cape Porpoise and Dock Square.

"Help our emergency services by staying home," the town's facebook post said.

Megan Arsenault, deputy director for the York County Emergency Management Agency, says the towns of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Old Orchard Beach have been especially hard hit by the storm.

At about 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Arsenault said there were several rescues underway of residents who had gotten cut off by high water and were unable to head to higher ground on their own. Several warming shelters are being opened for those who've had to evacuate. But Arsenault says towns did a great job planning for the event and getting the word out to the public about what to expect.

As for damage caused by this record-breaking storm, Arsenault says municipal officials are still in the thick of it and haven't had a chance to tally the losses incurred today on top of the damage caused by gusty winds and flooding earlier this week.

"I am pretty sure it's going to be significant," she said.

Farther up the coast in Thomaston, the St. George River completely covered the town landing, and Rockland's Harbor Park was flooded for the second time this week.

Traffic on Route 1 had to be bypassed around Lincolnville Beach because water completely covered the highway and flooded some businesses and restaurants. In Camden, several harborside restaurants were also flooded for the second time this week.

Central Maine Power and Versant Power, Maine's two largest electric utilities, reported about 10,000 customers without power as of 4:45 p.m. Saturday.

Despite a plea issued Friday by Maine Gov. Janet Mills for the public to stay home, storm watchers braved the harsh conditions to witness the destruction of this weather event, though forecasters had predicted that it would not be quite as powerful as the Wednesday storm that caused extensive damage along the coast.

Mills is urging individuals or business that experienced property damage from this week’s storms to report it to the State of Maine by dialing 211, or filling out a survey that can be found on the Maine Flood Resources & Assistance Hub website.

This story will be updated.