March 16, 2010

Floodwaters recede, give crews time to start repairs

By DENNIS HOEY Staff Writer

— From staff and news services

Floodwaters in Maine receded during a weekend letup in the region's incessant rain, even as the prospect of more wet weather in some areas raised concerns about renewed flooding.

Work crews took advantage of the break in the weather to begin repairs to washed-out roads in the southern part of the state.

In Freeport, one of the towns hardest hit, officials lifted a boil- water order put in place after a break in a 12-inch water main and said everyone was back in service.

But Desert Road and Varney Road in Freeport remained closed Sunday. Officials said it could take up to a month to repair Desert Road, part of which collapsed atop the broken main.

Robert Gardiner, a spokesman for the Maine Emergency Maine Agency, said the only reports he had received of flooded roads in York County were out of Waterboro where Gore Road remained closed Sunday night.

In Oxford County, water levels were still running high in the Saco River. Canoe rental companies and police attempted to discourage people from camping overnight on the river, but a few canoeists ignored their advice.

Michelle Broyer, who manages the Swans Fall Campground in Fryeburg, said authorities spent about four hours Saturday night searching for a Massachussetts man, who was reported missing.

He turned up on Sunday unharmed, after reporting that his canoe capsized.

''There are no beaches or places to camp. It's all underwater,'' Broyer said.

Meanwhile, with more rain possible Sunday night and into today, the National Weather Service posted a flash-flood warning for Franklin and Oxford counties, where thunderstorms were expected.

Southern Maine, however, may dodge the drenching rains that had been predicted earlier.

A shift in the computer models indicated that the system packing heavy rain may be shifting further to the west and the south, according to Andrew Pohl, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Gray.

''It's been slowly evolving,'' Pohl said. ''We may actually get a break.''

The ground across much of Maine remained saturated from this month's prolonged rain, but Pohl said it would likely take about 2 to 3 inches over a couple of hours to cause additional flooding.

Officials have been totaling up the damage from the recent spate of wet weather.

In Lebanon, washed-out culverts opened a huge gap in Kennebec Road. But Bob Bohlman, director of the York County Emergency Management Agency said he doesn't expect damage in the county to reach the $230,000 threshold that would trigger a request for a federal disaster designation and open the door to low-interest loans and grants to help with repairs.

Damage estimates for Cumberland County were expected today.

With more rain possible Sunday night and into today, the National Weather Service posted a flash-flood warning for Franklin and Oxford counties, where thunderstorms were expected.

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