September 22, 2017
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Kennebec River ice jam floods Augusta parking lot, triggers warning

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Augusta police and fire crews closed down a portion of a downtown parking lot Wednesday morning after an ice jam caused flooding that left some cars in 2 feet of water.

Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said the flooding is minor.

“We expect things aren’t going to get worse,” he added.

Around 9 a.m., an open channel of water down the middle of the river was blocked by an ice jam, Audette said. Officials keep a close eye on the river as winter temperatures rise, because it’s prone to flooding when its flow is impeded.

Audette said cars were parked in the flooded portion of the lot, but owners were able to reach them and move them.

There was a steady stream of onlookers Wednesday morning, watching the power of the ice flow.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Patricia Albison of West Gardiner, who was watching the scene Wednesday morning, said. “This river is so powerful. It’s just beautiful.”

Ted Brown of Augusta agreed.

“I’ve never seen this before,” he said. “This parking lot floods every year in the spring, but I’ve never seen it move this early in the year.”

Brown said employees of nearby businesses were told to move their cars early Wednesday morning.

“You should have seen the scramble,” he said.

The water level was rising steadily late Wednesday morning and was approaching nearby buildings. Downriver in Hallowell, the ice remained intact around noon. At Worthing’s Smelt Camps in Randolph, fishermen were unfazed. A woman at the scene said the situation was being monitored but that the ice flow rarely affects the shoreline in that location.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for Augusta, remaining in effect until 4:30 p.m. The river started to subside after high tide around 10:30 a.m.

“We’re keeping that section of the parking lot closed and keeping an eye to the river,” Audette said.

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

 


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