SACO — The oceanside community of Camp Ellis was one of the spots on the state’s southern coast most vulnerable to Sunday’s storm.

For many, that made it the place to be.

A steady stream of cars wound through the neighborhood’s narrow streets about midday Sunday, several pausing around the bend of Eastern Avenue that overlooks the water.

Some people parked near the pier to watch from inside their cars as the ocean churned, while others walked right up to the jetty at the end of Bay Avenue to get a closer look at the crashing waves.

Saco police later blocked off the jetty for safety reasons, but not before Robin Penzone got there.

“What better place to be during the storm?” asked Penzone, who lives in Old Orchard Beach.

Droves of storm watchers headed out to southern Maine’s beaches Sunday with their cameras and cellphones in hand to document the dramatic weather brought about by Tropical Storm Irene.

Scarborough police had to clear onlookers from Higgins Beach, because their haphazardly parked cars were clogging up the roads, said emergency dispatcher Eric Berry.

Although people were prohibited from swimming at Old Orchard Beach, it was still a hotspot for watching the waves.

Many businesses along the strip were closed due to the storm, which left a couple of others to capitalize on the foot traffic.

John Murray, manager of Lisa’s Pizza, said people throughout the day had been stopping at the walk-up window on their way to and from the beach.

Among the customers were Gary and Suzanne Charland, who decided to go down to the ocean after losing electricity at their home on nearby Union Avenue.

“We figured we had nothing else to do,” Gary Charland said.

He said he’s seen much worse weather in the 30 years he’s lived in the area, but his wife was still impressed by the height of the waves and the strength of the wind on the beach.

“We were having to hold on to each other,” she said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or: [email protected]