SACO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- For decades, residents of the small coastal community of Camp Ellis have taken a beating by wind and waves driven by strong winter storms.
"After the Patriot's Day storm, we had to pick it up off its foundation, and now the ocean will go underneath and the building is saved, but the yard keeps getting washed away," Don Cote explained as he surveyed the damage done to his rental home after high tide.
"We haven't lost anymore sand, but we haven't gained any," declared Cote.
Long time resident Joe Walker says this most recent storm was not as bad as ones in years past, but he is getting tired of having to clean up the mess.
"It is unfortunate that they didn't fix this up a long time ago, then they wouldn't be dealing with it now," explained Walker, as he gestured toward the jetty that extends from Camp Ellis into the ocean.
Walker says what has been worse this year is the city's repairs to roads and infrastructure damaged by storms. He says public works crews have just been dumping sand out of the main roads back onto the beach, but have not done any substantial work to fix the roads and infrastructure that has been damaged.
"This is a disgrace the way this looks now," said Walker.
Steven Boucovalas, director of Saco's Office of Emergency Management, concedes the city has only put temporary fixes in place for now, while they wait for better weather to do the job the right way and not have to keep dumping money into repairs that could quickly be washed away.
"They have valid concerns," he admitted. "We are as concerned for them as they are."
He says the city plans to start construction as early as April to repair the damage, but that there is no threat to public safety by leaving things as they are for now.
"Right now, we see this as cosmetic," he explained. "There is no public safety issue. Life before property, that is what we always have to look at."
For years studies have been done to determine the best way to protect the beach and homes in the area. The Army Corps of Engineers gave approval to a plan to address the problems, to the tune of more than $20 million, but so far Congress has not appropriated the money to do the work.
"We want to make sure that we can fix this, and fix it the right way," stated Boucovalas.
He says the city continues to work with several state and federal agencies to find a solution, noting that the area has lost roughly 20 homes in the past couple of decades, destroying the quaint fishing village and hurting the town's tax base.