Addressing a problem with no clear, historical guidance for a solution

Staff Writer
Posted 2019-11-25

Owen Casas, town administrator for South Thomaston, is dealing with a problem with no clear, historical guidance for a solution.

The problem is sea level rise.

Island Road in South Thomaston is a critical route to the working waterfront, used daily by 115 lobster workers and 150 residents. As the seas continue to rise, Island Road is starting to flood during high tide and the problem is only getting worse.

The solution is community-based climate action, and the Island Institute is guiding the way.

Owen was familiar with the Island Institute’s ShoreUp Maine initiative, which provides flexible funding and support to communities taking steps to address coastal flooding intensified by sea level rise. With the assistance of public and private partners, Owen was able to complete a study for Island Road. This study predicted that the road needed to be raised by three feet in order to keep transportation viable for the next 10 years.

The Island Institute’s ShoreUp grants enabled Owen to gain initial funding to help study the issue, leverage that funding, and take action now to reduce the future impacts of sea level rise.

“Coastal communities facing sea level rise adaptation need donors to invest in funding opportunities like ShoreUp. The government isn’t nimble and has limited resources—we need flexible nonprofit dollars for quick solutions.”
Owen Casas, Town Administrator, South Thomaston

Every island and coastal community in Maine faces unique challenges particular to their working waterfront, existing infrastructure, and citizen engagement. To date, 11 coastal Maine towns have received funding through the ShoreUp program. As the climate continues to warm, the need for sea level rise adaptation—and the ShoreUp program—continues to grow. Support from our members helps create Maine-based solutions and share them with people like Owen.

To learn more about the ShoreUp initiative and the Island Institute’s sea level rise work, visit:

Help share solutions and ideas with your community:
For more information on becoming a member or making a donation to support this work, visit

Related News

South Thomaston Awarded $10,000 Island Institute Grant; Town of South Thomaston, 10/24/19