Torrential downpour washes out bridge in Freeport, strands two families

Posted Aug. 16, 2014, at 9:09 a.m.

FREEPORT, Maine — Two families were stranded Wednesday after a torrential downpour washed out the one and only bridge leading to their homes in Freeport.

Four inches of rain in 90 minutes. Six and a half inches of rain in all. And the bridge was no match.

Beth Toothaker, one of the stranded homeowners on the other side of Allen Brook, said that usually, “it’s just a very small, little brook.”

But when that torrential downpour hit Wednesday night, the brook turned into a giant, swirling pond.

“It built up so high, then swirled around and blew all the culverts out. They were probably plugged up with rocks and debris,” said Mike Shea, who also was stranded.

The floodwaters washed the bridge away.

“The neighbor’s got her car trapped over there. She can’t even get out,” Shea said.

“They told us if there was a fire or if somebody needed an ambulance, there’s absolutely nothing they could do,” Toothaker said. “The only thing they could do is make us a priority for airlifting. So I like to say it’s a good thing I’m a nurse.

“I had to go finance a Ranger [because] we have chickens and turkeys up there that need to be fed,” she added.

An estimate for rebuilding the bridge over their private drive was between $60,000 and $100,000.

Unfortunately, because it is a private drive, the town of Freeport and the state of Maine are not obligated to help rebuild that bridge.

“To come up with that kind of money, it’s hard,” Shea said.

“If we can’t get this resolved before the snow flies, that’s the scary part. Cause there’s no way to heat the house without oil,” Toothaker said.

At this point, both families don’t know what they’re going to do. They’re trying to find a way to build a new road to their homes, one that doesn’t involve the bridge.

 

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