As hurricane season winds down, Damariscotta has taken steps toward preventing future disasters.
On November 6, the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen unanimously approved seeking a Coastal Communities Grant.
Should the town receive the grant, it would provide money toward studying and improving the coastal areas that would be adversely affected by storm surges and flooding, Town Manager Matt Lutkus said.
The Coastal Communities Grant would match Damariscotta's $5,000 investment with $25,000, if approved.
In a county-wide report by Lincoln County Planner Bob Faunce, it was shown that Damariscotta could be ravaged by flooding in several key spots. During his June 4 talk with the Lincoln County Commissioners, Faunce showed what could happen if a storm surge, combined with rising sea levels, hit Damariscotta.
Two areas: the large municipal parking lot that buffers downtown with the harbor, and the area around Miles Memorial Hospital would be severely affected by a storm surge and flooding.
The grant wouldn't remedy those ills, but it could start Damariscotta along a path toward ensuring tragedy doesn't strike, Lutkus said.
“I believe with the money we invest upfront will be money well spent,” he said. “We want to make sure we aren't like the folks in New Jersey who are saying 'What should we have done?' My job is to see what we can do now.”
But, the grant is very competitive, Lutkus said, and action needed to be taken for the 2015 grant. The money won't be spent until the next financial year and if given the green light the cash would come from the contingency fund.