The Kennebec River was whitecapped and roaring as it passed through downtown Augusta on Wednesday afternoon. Logs and pieces of debris bobbed on its surface, and passers-by stopped to take a look.

“She tried to go in,” said Jeff Parquette, of Randolph, referring to Dolly, the white American bulldog he was walking along Front Street. “I was like, ‘No way! The tide’s going too fast.’ ”

The National Weather Service has warned there could be minor flooding along the Kennebec River in Augusta, Hallowell, Sidney and Skowhegan Wednesday and Thursday; and by Wednesday afternoon, some water already was flowing into the Front Street parking lot in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan
A park of ducks swim through Kennebec River floodwater late Wednesday afternoon in the north end of the Front Street parking lot in downtown Augusta.

Public officials from towns and cities along the river have been monitoring conditions, as well as National Weather Service forecasts, but they were not overly concerned about the rising water.

“Between police and fire and public works, we’ve got lots of eyes on it,” said Lesley Jones, Augusta’s public works director. “It’s not a risk at this time.”

Jones predicted the flood might reach the back, concrete wall of the Front Street parking lot, but said she didn’t expect more than that. That parking lot was blocked off Wednesday, and at least one Water Street business owner said the weather seemed to be scaring off customers.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan
People look down at the Kennebec River floodwater late Wednesday afternoon in the north end of the Front Street parking lot in downtown Augusta.

“Any time we have flood warnings, people are nervous to come downtown,” said Betsy Curtis, owner of the clothing and furniture store Betsy’s. “But I don’t think anybody is closing down their businesses.”

Curtis said she was not concerned about water entering the building.

The current flood warnings stem from the record-breaking warm temperature earlier this week, which continued through the nights and melted much of the snow pack in northern and western Maine.

“The big flush, so to speak, occurred Monday and Tuesday,” said Tom Hawley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gray.

“Water comes down the Carrabassett and Sandy rivers from the mountains, and all that melt is eventually going to come by Augusta.”

Hawley said cooler temperature later this week should slow the melting rate and cause the river level to drop by Friday.

Charles Eichacker can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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