DEXTER, Maine — There were no injuries and only a few homes evacuated last week when the east branch of the Sebasticook River overflowed its banks. But town officials are still assessing the damage that took out a small bridge between Millside Fitness and the Grist Mill Museum and washed away part of Lincoln Street.
Several businesses were closed last Wednesday when Main Street was flooded for a few hours and the Dexter Fire Department had to pump out the basement of the town office.
The National Weather Service estimated that the river’s water level was 10.3 feet at its peak, or 1.3 feet above flood level.
Social media played a major part in keeping residents informed as the police and fire departments posted updates on their Facebook pages about street closings and dangerous areas of town.
Lincoln Street sustained heavy damage as the raging river uprooted the culvert which broke through the pavement, thus blocking the flow of the river.
Police Chief Kevin Wintle and Allen Emerson went to the scene and started notifying all the homeowners about the flood danger. “We evacuated some people on St. Francis and Liberty streets and also the mobile home park on Water Street,” said Wintle. The fire department, public works crew and Mayo Regional Ambulance also responded to the scene.
Town officials then contacted Chuck Ellms who brought an excavator in and moved the culverts away so the stream flow eventually went back to normal. A large chunk of Lincoln Street is now gone, however, so there’s no through traffic on the normally-busy street.
Wintle said that there are concerns that the Grist Mill Museum “could be in serious trouble. There are only a few beams holding it up.” The chief advises the public, however, to stay away from the area. “People are curious and want to get under the [yellow caution] tape for a closer look, but they shouldn’t. It’s incredible how fast that current is going,” Wintle said.