MILLINOCKET, Maine — Seasonal snowmelt and heavy river flows have flooded basements and backyards on several streets and washed out sections of the Golden Road northwest of town, firefighters and residents said Thursday.
Deputy Fire Chief Thomas Malcolm said the high water and flooding along sections of Bates, Congress and State streets is typical for this time of year.
“We are monitoring it [town flooding] pretty steadily,” Malcolm said Thursday. “I’ve seen it worse than this.”
Snowmelt and Brookfield Renewable Energy’s release of water from the Ripogenus Dam this week are contributing factors, Malcolm said.
The dam controls the flow of the West Branch of the Penobscot River from Ripogenus to Ambajejus lakes. That section of river flows parallel to the Golden Road, a 96-mile private logging road that runs from Millinocket’s former Great Northern Paper Co. mill site to the Canadian border at St. Zacharie, Quebec.
Millinocket Stream, which flows north to south through the center of town between Millinocket Lake and the West Branch, is also running high, Malcolm said. The stream connects to Little Smith and Ledge Cut brooks near Bates Street and Station Road.
The situation along the Golden Road seems severe, said author and retired Maine Department of Conservation ranger Tim Caverly. Caverly and his wife visited the dam, which is about 40 miles northwest of town, on Wednesday. He said the waterflow there was fierce and likely contributed to the flooding of several sections of the Golden Road.
“We have seen flooding cross the Golden Road before, but we haven’t seen it to the point where I was worried that our pickup truck would stall out,” Caverly, who has lived in Millinocket since 1986, said. “It was up to the bottom of our truck doors.”
The weather service predicted as of Thursday that about three-quarters of an inch of rain will fall in Millinocket this weekend.