Tornadoes are not a familiar occurrence in Maine, not like they are in the Midwest anyway. But Maine has had a few confirmed twisters this July, including one Tuesday evening that destroyed nearly all the equipment belonging to the Portland Community Rowing Association.
According to club representatives, the storm appeared to be a "rain wrapped tornado" that touched down in the boatyard where at least 10 shells were stored in an outside facility near East End Beach. The equipment destroyed included two eights, two fours, a double and five singles.
When Jacob Green of the Portland Community Rowing Association arrived at East End Beach Tuesday, he was stunned by the piles of debris left behind by a fast-moving storm that swept through Portland Monday evening.
A rack that holds eight boats had been lifted, thrown 30 yards by the wind and was wrapped around a telephone pole. Seven of the nonprofit association's eight rowing shells were completely destroyed. A tandem kayak weighing 100 pounds at neighboring Portland Paddle had been blown off its own rack, and a half dozen heavy paddle boards had been tossed up the beach.
"People told me it looked like a scene from 'The Wizard of Oz,'" said Green. The storm also knocked out power to nearly 4,000 customers, including 3,000 in Portland and damaged sail boats moored in the harbor.
In an effort to get the club fully on the water again as soon as possible, members have started a GoFundMe page and are asking for help from the rowing community.