By Rebecca Alley and Letitia Baldwin
GOULDSBORO — Torrential rains overnight Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning heavily damaged the small bridge at the head of Birch Harbor, making that section of Route 186 impassable. Flooding also was reported in sections of the Pond Road (Route 195).
In downtown Winter Harbor, at the corner of Route 186 and Newman Street, incoming motorists were being advised to turn around.
“The bridge under the hill is pretty much gone,” Gouldsboro Board of Selectmen Chairman Dana Rice reported Wednesday morning. Rice lives near the bridge and overflowing stream on Route 186 in Birch Harbor. The section of roadway literally buckled and broke as the torrent of water ripped through.
As of Wednesday a.m., a section of Route 186 near MCs Market and East Schoodic Drive were closed to traffic. On the Pond Road (Route 195), the section was closed from the Gouldsboro Recreation Center to Prospect Harbor. Debris was reported on the West Bay Road. Later in the morning, Winter Harbor Police Chief Danny Mitchell, Jr. reported that the Pond Road and West Bay Road still had standing water, but that it appeared to be receding and the roadway was open to traffic.
Acadia National Park’s Schoodic District was closed to visitation Wednesday. Whitten Way was impassable.
The road damage and flooding also prompted the K-eighth grade Peninsula School in Prospect Harbor to cancel classes.
Gouldsboro Town Manager Andrea Sirois was notified of the emergency after 6 a.m. She said the Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor fire departments, both towns’ public works crews, Winter Harbor and Maine State Police, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) were out working at various sites to assess and address the flooding and road damage.
In Winter Harbor, the Main Street section was closed near the Newman Street intersection. The street is flooded in front of the IGA supermarket. The road to and in front of the Schoodic Point Road also were closed. Other roads have washed out too, according to the Winter Harbor Fire Department’s Facebook page.
Mitchell reported “serious washouts going down Summer Harbor Road,” and smaller roads, such as Steamboat Lane.
“The one serious road closure is the one between Winter Harbor and into Birch Harbor,” he said, noting that one of the culverts is now “a few hundred yards out in the bay.”
“Our Public Safety Department is working diligently and coordinating with Winter Harbor, DOT and other agencies,” Sirois said Wednesday morning. “We are doing our best to ensure the public’s safety.”