People observe a flooded street in Mackerel Cove, Harpswell. Courtesy of Monique Coombs

In the wake of damaging winter storms that devastated waterfront communities, local groups are beginning to discuss the best ways to recover.

The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust will host a panel discussion next Wednesday on the future of the maritime industry amid more frequent severe storms and rising waters.

The panel is set for April 3, just over a week after an ice storm downed trees and took out power for thousands of residents in the Midcoast. The discussion, which is part of a series hosted by the two organizations, will differ from previous panels by focusing on severe weather impact. The panel will be moderated by Monique Coombs, MCFA’s director of community programs and a Harpswell resident who witnessed severe storm damage first-hand.

“We changed the topic of this panel after the storms because it is so urgent and all-encompassing,” said Susan Olcott, director of operations for the MCFA.

The discussion follows on the heels of an early March bill granting $15 million toward the Working Waterfront Preservation Act, which creates grant opportunities to purchase and improve waterfront properties in Maine.

The bill came as a response to the winter storms in December and January, which ravaged coastal communities. The back-to-back storms damaged waterfront businesses in towns like Harpswell, which saw fish houses and wharfs washed away by tides and swells, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Though the panel plans to discuss the pending funds on Wednesday, the focus will be on efforts to assess damage and navigate insurance and other funding opportunities.

The discussion starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. The event is free and open to the public, but those interested in attending must register at

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