APTOPIX Severe Weather Northeast

Nathan Sennett hands furniture to Tori Grasse on Tuesday as they work in hip-deep water on the patio of the Quarry Tap Room in Hallowell. Waters continue to rise in the Kennebec River following Monday’s severe storm. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

AUGUSTA — Almost two days after a storm swept through the state toppling trees and power lines, Maine is still recuperating from widespread power outages and rivers flooding onto the streets and into buildings in many communities.

Flood waters surround the Olde Federal Building in downtown Augusta. The building, which is home to several local businesses, has been closed and the power has been cut for safety. Courtesy of Gayle Chung

While restoration efforts are underway, local businesses have taken a hit. Many in central Maine were forced to close, though some stayed open as conditions allowed.

Elisha Irland, owner of The Oak Table & Bar, is hoping power will be restored at his establishment in downtown Augusta and jolt his business back to life. Meanwhile, he’s continuing to count his losses.

“It’s the end of the year and it’s the holiday season — this is where we try and do as much business as we can, because January through April we expect to bleed money,” said Irland.

The east side of Augusta’s Water Street still remains without power after the Kennebec River submerged Front Street and the Waterfront Park. Electricity was briefly restored Tuesday only to be cut later to address a propane leak in one of the buildings.

A swollen Kennebec River on Tuesday climbs up buildings on the back side of Water Street in Augusta. Waters rose to more than 30 feet and reached a flow of 144,000 cubic feet per second in parts of the river between Augusta and Waterville, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The river is considered to be flooding once the depth reaches 17 feet and the water moves at 35,000 cubic feet per second. Courtesy of Dave Dostie

The restaurants and businesses on the west side of the street have power, and being the only available alternatives, are attracting customers, Irland said.


“It’s not fun to send customers away — I have already sent a couple of reservations to other places,” he said. “I don’t like it, and they (customers) don’t like it.”

At 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, over 180,000 Central Maine Power customers were still without power. Though power outages crippled much of Maine, Kennebec County was hit the hardest with 43,000 households still in the dark.

The Olde Federal Building, a downtown Augusta landmark, has been invaded by the gushing waters from the flooding river. The building was once a post office but now houses several  businesses.

Flood waters submerge part of the Olde Federal Building in downtown Augusta, where an affixed measuring stick indicates a depth of close to 26 feet. To the right, a garage door is completely underwater. Courtesy of Erin Towns

Gayle Chung, 37, is one of the business owners who works out of the building but can no longer access it as it has been closed due to flooding.

Chung is the owner of Downtown Yoga and Healing Arts and is a licensed massage therapist. Even though she works from one of the top floors of the buildings, she said the building’s power has been cut and it has been locked for safety.


Flood waters encroach on a window and several power meters on the side of the Olde Federal Building in Augusta on Tuesday. Courtesy of Erin Towns

“Luckily, I took my laptop and can contact my clients. They have been very understanding,” Chung said. “But, if I’m not working, I’m not making any money and I don’t have paid days off because I work for myself.”

She added that getting back to work soon seems unlikely. Even if the power was restored soon, the flooding in the basement could have damaged the boilers, meaning no heat while the temperatures continued to drop.

“I am trying to take it day by day. I am grateful that I have electricity now and I have been trying to help close friends if they need a place to shower or charge their phones,” said Chung.

The Kennebec River also breached its banks in Hallowell, where businesses are struggling with similar grievances.

On Tuesday, “an army” of people including City Manager Gary Lamb, members of Hallowell City Council and others helped business owners along Water Street shift their inventory out of danger.

“This was about 4 or 5 feet above the May storm,” Lamb said.


The Studio at Gallant Therapy Services, which provides services and support to individuals with disabilities in downtown Hallowell, is without power and internet. Flood water has invaded its basement, forcing staff to move to the group’s Augusta office on Shuman Avenue to serve clients.

“We are waiting for the water to recede, taking it a day at a time and hoping we can return to Hallowell soon,” said Madeline Kelley, who works for the group.

Flood waters submerge a window and several power meters on the side of the Olde Federal Building in Augusta. Courtesy of Erin Towns

Kelley noted that there will be losses because of the flooding but insurance is not expected to cover it — and that’s the case for almost all businesses, she said.

“The insurance only covers any damage to the building but nothing for what’s inside,” she said. “It’s interesting, and I don’t think it’s changeable in the future.”

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