A second straight day of relentless rain caused flash flooding, washed out a small dam in Oxford County and broke Portland’s rainfall record for the month of March.

The slow-moving storm churned across the state Tuesday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue flood warnings for the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, the Kennebec River in Skowhegan and small streams in York, Knox and Waldo counties. Beach erosion and minor coastal flooding were brought on by an extreme high tide and a storm surge.

In York County, the emergency management agency mobilized for the fourth time in little more than a month because of heavy rain and flooding. The ground is so saturated that it’s causing septic tank problems and contaminating some shallow wells, said Bob Bohlmann, the agency’s director.

“We seem to have a big bull’s-eye over us for the past month or so,” he said.

In the Oxford County town of Porter, the Colcord Pond dam let loose around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when a metal door on the dam broke because of heavy rain.

Water swirled in an eddy, undercutting Colcord Pond Road and causing half of it to sag. Water covered about 100 yards of the rural road, which was shut down by emergency officials. No evacuations were reported.

The dam break produced a chain reaction, as water flowed through brooks and gullies and along roads. Water also flowed into nearby Bickford Pond, swelling that small body of water.

Forest Ranger Matt Bennett was at the site for much of the day, monitoring the floodwaters. He watched the pond dam and kept an eye on the small bridge on Dam Road that crosses Mill Brook.

Twelve to 15 state and local emergency officials were spread throughout the area, watching various flooded sections, said Lt. Jeff Dutil of the Kezar Falls Fire Department. A state dam inspector examined the Colcord Pond and Bickford Pond dams using the Bridgton Fire Department’s airboat.

Only one house off Colcord Pond Road was near the floodwaters. It is a seasonal home and is unoccupied, emergency officials said.

To the south, in the New Hampshire border town of Lebanon, emergency management officials scrambled late Tuesday night to replace road barricades that had been tossed into flooded rivers and streams by motorists who refused to take detours.

At least five flooded roads were closed and 20 others were close to being closed as water in the Salmon Falls and Little rivers continued to rise.

“It’s still raining hard here, and we’ve run out of barricades,” said Jason Cole, Lebanon’s assistant rescue chief. “People have been throwing them in the river so they can drive around them.”

Cole said volunteers were on their way to York, which offered more barricades.

Tom Hawley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Gray, said the March rainfall record for Portland — 9.97 inches in 1953 — was broken at 9:30 p.m. By 11 p.m., the city’s total for the month was 10.69 inches. National Weather Service records go back to 1871.

Hawley said he expects the rain to continue through this morning and probably taper off this afternoon. Emergency management officials are expected to keep a close watch on the Presumpscot and Saco rivers.

Hawley said both are expected to crest above flood stage today or Thursday, raising the possibility of minor flooding in Westbrook, Buxton and Saco.

Not everyone was sweating Tuesday’s weather.

In Kennebunk, about 10 surfers took advantage of the coastal storm to catch some high waves.

Leonard Earnshaw, 36, of Bradford, Mass., said he took time off from work to drive to Maine to go surfing Tuesday morning.

“Surfers get excited when you see a pressure system like this come in because it means you’re going to get good surf,” he said.


— Staff Writers Dennis Hoey and Matt Wickenheiser contributed to this report.


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