Down East Communities Combat Winter Storm

Offering a hand in the effort to shovel out the community of Baileyville is young Xander M., who was among the youth that eased the recovery from Winter Storm Grayson. (Photo from Baileyville Police Department)

By Lura Jackson

 

A rapidly moving storm that traveled up the East Coast last week delivered the first major snowfall of the year to inland Washington County, bringing with it high winds and sleet. While not the blizzard that many anticipated, the white-out conditions and ensuing slippery roads contributed to a slew of accidents over the subsequent days as extremely cold temperatures soon descended. The communities of the area met the challenge of the storm and its aftermath with characteristic solidarity, bringing a different kind of warmth to the community.

The first to feel the brunt of the storm were the drivers who were traveling on Thursday’s roads. The storm arrived just after 10 a.m. with a moderate rate of coverage. By early afternoon the flakes were falling fast and the roads were thickly covered, making it nearly impossible for some vehicles to safely navigate. Snow plows were mobilized throughout the day and night to clear the roads on Thursday and Friday while tow trucks stood ready to haul in those who were in need. Multiple reports of cars sliding off the roads and occasionally into one another were filed throughout the county, including a three-car accident in Meddybemps over the weekend. 

The full moon in conjunction with the storm surge produced exceptionally high tides. According to Calais City Manager Jim Porter, no instances of damage along the St. Croix River occurred. Clearing the roads in the city has continued to be a challenge as a result of the cold conditions, however. “We are still trying to clear ice from pavement which is challenging because of the low temperatures,” Porter said on Monday. Calais City Public Works Director Skeet Seelye said that there were the “usual stuck cars” as a result of the storm and reminds those in Calais to avoid parking on the road or close to its edge as it makes it more difficult to plow. 

In Baileyville, the youth in the area took matters into their own hands to clear the driveways and fire hydrants in the area. Recognizing the efforts of the young community members, Baileyville Police Chief Bob Fitzsimmons offered to hold a raffle with the names of those who were endeavoring to clear the snow to enable them to win a free pizza from Linda’s. Elijah Martin and Keyairah Pellerin were chosen to receive free pizzas from Chief Fitzsimmons and his department while Clay Plourde received a pizza donated by Calvin Shain. 

As the news of the shoveling spread, others made it possible for each of the children that assisted and their families to enjoy pizza as a group at Linda’s. Ian Howland, Andrew Howland, Abby Walker, Jeremy Pottle, Jason Lockenwitz, Devon Barnard, Mathew and Colby Overlock, and Xander Maloney and their guests enjoyed the evening together. “We played some pool, watched the really little kids play games and I had a talk with all of the kids to let them know that what they do around this town is noticed, the good and the not so good,” Chief Fitzsimmons commented. “Thankfully we have a lot more good.”

In Pleasant Point, a dire situation was quickly remedied by community members.  A tribal elder was facing the extremely cold conditions without wood for her stove in a house that had been previously damaged by fire. When word began to spread about her predicament, solutions for finding and getting wood to her quickly began to emerge. An Eastport resident offered several cords of wood at no cost, and arrangements were made for the wood to be picked up. Upon learning of her damaged home, others offered sheetrock to help repair it – repairs that Sam Neptune, Jr. began on Monday at no cost.

No matter how cold the temperatures may get in the winter in Down East Maine, it seems that there’s always a neighbor nearby to help rekindle both heart and hearth.