The Crooked River knocked Eric Ruby down Wednesday afternoon as he tried to return to his house and save a generator and other equipment from the rushing waters that flooded several homes at the end of Hancock Road in Casco.

Wearing camouflage bib waders, Ruby described the frustration and anxiety of dealing with flooding that has affected many homes in low-lying areas across Maine after Monday’s storm. He’s also one of nearly 500,000 customers who have lost power at some point during the last three days, and he doesn’t expect to get it back anytime soon.

“I’m so screwed,” he said, his voice wavering, his eyes red from crying. “Everything I have is floating away.”

Ruby, 36, and his neighbors found slight hope in seeing the river recede a few inches Wednesday afternoon, in keeping with what experts saw happening around the state.

Eric Ruby stands where the swollen Crooked River flooded Hancock Road in Casco, cutting him off from his home and destroying several vehicles and equipment he had stored outside. He tried to rescue some of his belongings Wednesday afternoon, but the fast-moving river swept him off his feet. Kelley Bouchard/Staff Writer

Most of the major rivers had crested and were beginning to recede by Wednesday evening, but Greg Stewart, chief of the hydrologic monitoring branch of the United States Geological Survey in Augusta, cautioned about getting too close to rivers like the Androscoggin, Kennebec and Swift because water levels are still high.

“The rivers are receding, but they are still very high,” Stewart said. “What’s even more dangerous is what could be submerged under the flood waters.”


Stewart said warmer than usual temperatures mixed with rain and snow in the mountains produced an enormous amount of “thermal energy” that turned the snowpack into liquid that poured into rivers and streams.

“The rainfall was the driving force, but the snowpack that was already on the ground magnified the flooding that we saw,” Stewart said.

One of the locations that turned into a churning torrent of water was the Swift River near Rumford and Mexico where river gauges recorded 23,000 cubic feet of water flow per second. He said a record amount of water surged through the towns on the Swift River during the storm, breaking the old record of 16,800 cubic feet per second set in the 1950s.

The worst flood in Maine on record occurred in 1987, according to USGS records that go back 93 years, but the floods produced by Monday’s storm were not far behind.

“This flood will very likely be the state’s second largest on record,” Stewart said.

The National Weather Service in Gray issued a flood warning Wednesday that will remain in effect until late Thursday evening.


Derek Schroeter, a weather service meteorologist, said that while nearly all rivers in Maine have crested and are receding there are locations such as the Androscoggin River in Auburn that bear watching. River levels peaked around noon Wednesday at 20.3 feet, far above the flood stage of 13 feet. Minor flooding in Auburn is expected on Thursday, but by Saturday morning water levels will drop far below flood stage.

The weather service is forecasting wind gusts of up to 40 mph on Thursday, which could hinder power restoration efforts, Schroeter said.

Many homes along the Crooked River in Casco, a small town in Cumberland County, were flooded and have been evacuated, including several year-round and seasonal homes on a peninsula at the end of Hancock Road.


Brittney Clogston and her family fled their rental home on Hancock Road on Tuesday. The power was still out and the river was rising. Her partner, Chad Leeman, ferried them in an aluminum boat, across the gravel road, to a car waiting on dry land. He was walking alongside the boat when their situation took a frightening turn.

“The current was so strong, it knocked him down and the boat slammed into him,” said Clogston, 29. “It was scary.”


Fortunately, he wasn’t injured, she said. The couple returned to their rental house Wednesday morning to find the water was up to the second step of the front porch. A local fire official told her the river might rise another 4 feet before day’s end. Clogston was remarkably calm.

“It’s hard,” she said at the time. “The river’s rising. We’re going to lose everything. All our furniture, clothing, all our Christmas presents. I don’t know how I’m going to replace it all.”

They also have five cats that they had to leave in the house and feared they might drown. Thankfully, by Wednesday afternoon it appeared that the river was receding and most of their belongings would be spared.

“If the water goes down enough, we’ll be able to go back tomorrow and take care of the cats,” Clogston said.

Clogston and her family – including her 4-year-old son, her mother and her disabled brother – are staying with a family member in Windham. Leeman planned to clock in for work Wednesday afternoon at the local Family Dollar store, but his co-workers told him to stay with his family.

“Now, all we have to worry about is our pipes bursting and mold growing,” Clogston said. “Hopefully nothing in the house got wet, but we have a lot of stuff stored in totes in our crawl space.”


Clogston’s landlord, Edward Ahlemeyer, lives next door. He returned Wednesday to survey the damage. The river had wrapped around his house and consumed his car.

Ahlemeyer said he has lived at the end of Hancock Road for nearly 23 years. He has seen flooding before.

Richard Pike of Naples wades between two sheds in his backyard while pulling an ice fishing sled toward his car on the other side of a flooded street to carry a newly purchased generator. Flooding has displaced residents living along the Crooked River in Casco and Naples. With water receding on Wednesday afternoon, Pike and his wife Shirley returned home.Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“Never as bad as this,” he said.

For Ruby, the flood is just the latest challenge in a rough several months. He hasn’t been able to work as a house painter since he had lung surgery in August.

Last time he checked, the water surrounding his house was about chest high in some spots. He tried to rescue some of his belongings Wednesday afternoon, but the river’s current sent him swimming in the frigid water. He never made it to the house.

He’s staying with his girlfriend in Westbrook until he can get back home. He’s really worried about his 13-year-old son’s minibike and snowmobile. He doesn’t know how badly they’ve been damaged or whether he can afford to replace them.


“The town’s been helping me with rent and heat and keeping me afloat,” Ruby said. “It looks like the water’s going down, but I don’t know. It’s all too much.”


In Lewiston, the historically high flooding along the Androscoggin River severely damaged Veterans Memorial Park.

Stone markers listing the names of local veterans have been knocked down or are missing. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial monument is gone, and many memorial stone benches are underwater, some knocked over by the current. A World War II era Army Jeep was hanging precariously over the raging waters from its tilted pedestal on Wednesday.

A 51mm gun from a Naval ship and an Army Jeep at Veterans Memorial Park are overcome Wednesday morning by the Androscoggin River in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

L&A Veterans Council Chairman Jerry DeWitt vowed Wednesday morning that the memorial will be rebuilt.

“Come hell or high water, we will restore the park,” DeWitt said.


On Tuesday night, rescue crews pulled two drivers from floodwaters from the Kennebec River that covered a section of Route 24 on the Gardiner-Richmond line.

One woman attempted to cross the flooded road around 8:30 p.m. – roughly the same time as the raging river was at its crest of flooding.

A Richmond firefighter donned a dry suit and, with a rope attached so he could be pulled back in if needed, waded out into the water. By then, Fire Chief Steve Caswell said the water was 3 to 4 feet deep.

“She got on one of the rescuer’s back, who got her back to dry land,” Caswell said.

Earlier, around 6:30 p.m., firefighters helped another driver who was trapped in their car in the floodwaters. Neither of the drivers was injured, and both cars were recovered by a tow truck.

Caswell said both drivers had gone around the barricades and signs closing off the road.

“Apparently, cones, signs and barricades weren’t enough for people,” he said. “It boils down to the life safety of others, and us. We don’t want people getting hurt, or to put ourselves at more risk than we have to. This was a very lucky, good outcome. We all know it’s an inconvenience, but it’s a big safety concern.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey and Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards contributed to this report. 

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