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Cleanup From Nor’easters Continues on Maine Coast

Months after a destructive wave of nor'easters hit the Camp Ellis area of Saco, Maine, recovery is going slowly.

The city is building a new sea wall and replacing sand, but homes are still badly damaged from the storms in March.

"It was pretty intense," said resident Paul Descoteau. He is still working with his insurance company to repair his house in Camp Ellis.

A home further down the beach nearly crumbled from its foundation.

Residents say the city has been making necessary repairs to the area, but they call the work a "band aid" on a much larger issue.

"It's very frustrating — bureaucracy at its worst," said Descoteau.

City officials say beach erosion and damage from severe weather is made worse in the Saco area by a jetty. It was built by the Army Corps of Engineers about 100 years ago to accommodate boats in the bay. But now, the wave action is disrupted, and the jetty sends strong surf directly to Camp Ellis.

"Every time there is a storm, [the jetty] exacerbates the erosion issues," said State Senator Justin Chenette, D-Saco.

The Army Corps of Engineers accepted blame for the issue years ago, and proposed building a second jetty to mitigate the impacts of the first one.

But years later, and the project has stalled. The price dramatically increased from $27 million to $67 million, according to Chenette. He said state and local government cannot afford to pay for the new jetty, and they're waiting on the federal government to finally take action.

"We have waited long enough for a solution," said Chenette. He is asking state lawmakers to pass a resolution directing Congress to apply pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Saco Administrator Kevin Sutherland, the jetty project proposal has advanced to Army Corps headquarters — a promising sign, he said.

But Saco residents are out of patience.

"The amount of money they've spent on studies is enough that they probably could have fixed the problem," said Descoteau.

Even if the Army Corps approves the jetty funding now, the completion of the project could be several years away.

Descoteau hopes that would give his house enough time to survive. When his family first purchased it, there were two homes in front of his. Now, it's ocean front property, thanks to beach erosion that wiped out property.

"I'd like to stay here a little while longer, you know?" he said.

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