Heavy rain, wind spur flooding Down East

Posted Nov. 05, 2010, at 12:35 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — More than 2 inches of rain that fell along Maine’s coast Friday resulted in a flood closure of all coastal clam flats from Martin’s Point in Friendship to the Maine-Canada border, according to the state Department of Marine Resources.

In Washington County, a high tide and overnight pelting rain and winds that picked up Friday morning also caused some school closures, localized brook flooding and a tidal surge that threw ocean debris onto U.S. Route 1 in Machias. The high winds knocked out power to more than 3,500 Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. customers early in the day.

“Bangor Hydro crews are working to restore power to customers after strong winds picked up late this morning causing downed trees and power lines,” spokesperson Susan Faloon said at noon. “Affected towns include Addison, Beals, Columbia and Eastport.”

With no electricity, schools in Union 103, which includes Jonesport and Beals High School and elementary schools, closed two hours and 15 minutes early Friday.

Faloon reported at about 4 p.m. that power had been restored to all but one of the 3,538 Bangor Hydro customers who lost electricity in Washington County. There were no outages in Hancock or Penobscot counties.

Don Dunbar in Perry said two trees crashed down near his house, disrupting his power and shutting down a pump he was using to remove water from his cellar. A nearby stream was flooding his basement.

“It’s a mess,” he said.

Phil Roberts, a dispatcher with Washington County Communications Center, said reports were coming in early in the day of downed trees and limbs and some brooks spilling their banks. “But we haven’t had a single accident,” he said.

The Machias River estuary spilled over at the dike in Machias, covering U.S. Route 1 with seaweed, and catch basins that couldn’t handle the water backed up at several Machias businesses, flooding parking lots and causing traffic detours.

By midafternoon the water had receded.

According to tide charts provided by the Cutler Naval Base, high tide was at 10:24 a.m. at 15.18 feet. This combined with the overnight rainfall caused a higher than normal storm surge. High tide at Machias Bay is normally around 14 feet.

The closing of clam flats because of the flooding means that no gathering of clams, oysters or mussels will be allowed until water quality improves.

DMR staff will begin flood sample collection on Monday, Nov. 8, and will continue collecting into the week to establish conditions for reopening the closed area.

The earliest that any amendments can be made to the flood closure legal notice will be on Thursday, Nov. 11, which is a state holiday. However, DMR staff will be available to collect and process samples, to review water quality results, and to amend legal notices, according to Anna Bourakovsky, a DMR scientist.

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