Tree trunks and limbs lie in a heap near school buildings on Mackworth Island. The popular destination for walkers was temporarily closed because of storm damage caused by a violent storm Tuesday. Staff photos by Ben McCanna

The causeway to Mackworth Island in Falmouth reopened Friday and a Portland rowing club said it will get back on the water with help from Waynflete after most of its boats were damaged by a powerful “down burst” that swept through the area Tuesday, downing power lines, uprooting trees and capsizing sailboats.

A deer accounted for the only visible activity near the school buildings on Mackworth Island on Friday. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The Portland Community Rowing Association estimated it sustained $100,000 in damage during the storm, when winds approaching 60 mph picked up the rack that held its rowing shells and tossed it about, breaking the boats and strewing debris around East End Beach.

“All of our boats are pretty much ruined except for two singles, which appear to be reparable,” Jacob Green, the association’s coach, said on Friday. He said that the boats were insured, but he was unsure whether the coverage would be enough to replace the fleet they had been building up for the past decade.

The association has started a GoFundMe page, and has raised nearly $5,000 toward a goal of $25,000. They have seen support from people all over the country, including members of Marin Rowing, a nonprofit rowing association in California.

“The rowing community is pretty tightknit,” Green said, adding that the group has gotten numerous offers to borrow rowing shells, including from Lehigh University and the University of Rhode Island.

For now, the association’s rowing team will be running its 5:30 a.m. practices using boats that Waynflete is letting it use out of the school’s location at Portland Yacht Services.

Waynflete offered to lend the community group its boats for the rest of the season, Catherine Elliott, a member of the association’s board of directors, said in a email. C.C. Stockly, a coach at Waynflete, joined others from the school to help clean up and assess the damage after the storm subsided Tuesday night, she added.

The association also teaches people how to row, and Green says Waynflete’s help means his group will not have to cancel those classes.

“Waynflete has very kindly donated one of their old boats for us to use for our program,” he said, noting that the classes will still be in their location in the East End, where less boat traffic and calmer water make it easier for those new to rowing.

A snapped utility pole just from the water alojngside the causeway to Mackworth Island. The island was temporarily closed due to storm damage caused by a violent storm Tuesday.

Elliott is thankful for the support from the rowing community as the association works to rebuild.

“It lifts all of our hearts to see the support, whether in the form of condolences, boat donations, or financial contributions,” she says. “Losing an entire fleet of boats is pretty unheard of, and the images of destroyed boats pulls at every rower’s heartstrings.”

The storm knocked out power to nearly 4,000 customers, including 3,000 in Portland, and the causeway to Mackworth Island was shut down with telephone poles leaning precariously over the water. The causeway was reopened Friday, but visitors were being warned to avoid the middle of the island because of ongoing repairs.

“Damage to the island’s infrastructure, roadways and trail system is extensive due to many trees down. They are working on it. The roadways were completely impassable immediately following the storm,” the Falmouth Police Department posted on Facebook on Thursday.

The destruction was caused by a strong down-current of air with intense rain and hail, said Taylor Patterson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Gray. In a down burst, cold air descends from the middle and upper levels of a thunderstorm, rolling out when it hits the ground, at times even stronger than tornado winds.

Tree removal services have been busy picking up fallen branches and trees along the streets in parts of Portland affected by the storm, and owners of boats anchored in the East End have been checking their vessels for damage. Portland Harbor Master Kevin Battle said that two sailboats sank during the storm and have since been removed from the water.

One boat that was believed to be lost was found to not have been in the area during the storm. Battle is having local fisherman Jim Buxton scan the waters off the East End with sonar to see if any other boats sank.

Battle encouraged anyone who owns a boat anchored in the East End to check for damage to their pennant, the line that attaches the boat to the mooring.

“It can appear that there is no damage to the boat, but sometimes the pennant can get worn down or frayed” and might not be visible because the line is partly underwater, Battle said.

Julie Pike can be contacted at 400-6986 or at:

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