Parts of Dexter evacuated, flood warnings remain up in northern Maine

Posted April 17, 2014, at 10:58 a.m.
Last modified April 17, 2014, at 5:14 p.m.

DEXTER, Maine — People are being evacuated from homes and buildings in parts of Dexter Thursday after the east branch of the Sebasticook River spilled over its banks, according to the Maine Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service in Caribou.

A flood warning has been issued in the Dexter area until 5 p.m., according to the weather service. The Lincoln Street bridge is closed, with water running over the road. Evacuations are underway on Lincoln, Water and Liberty streets.

Conditions are easing on some northern Maine waterways, but the weather service has extended its flood warning for Aroostook County where some small streams or rivers could overspill their banks on Thursday.

At 11:25 a.m. MEMA issued an alert that flood waters were washing over Route 161 in St. Francis because of a 3-4-mile long ice jam in the St. John River.

According to a report issued by the weather service Thursday morning, rivers and streams across Aroostook County are at high levels and ice jams have been reported on the Aroostook River in Masardis and in the St. John River between St. John Plantation and St. Francis.

The ice jam on the Aroostook River in Fort Fairfield has released and water levels have dropped.

Floods are still a possibility in northern Maine until all the ice has cleared from the rivers and officials warn residents and motorists to be cautious around rising waters.

A Caswell man was killed Tuesday after being swept downstream when he fell into an open culvert hidden by floodwaters on the Oliver Road.

Paul Oliver had just moved his truck across the dirt road and was on his way home on foot when the accident occurred. Wardens recovered his body Wednesday morning about 20 yards downstream from that culvert.

In western Maine the weather service office in Gray reports the Androscoggin River has crested and dropped below flood stage at Rumford and remains at 15.3 feet, two feet above flood stage, in Auburn where it is expected to drop later today, according to Tom Hawley, weather service hydrologist Thursday morning.

The Kennebec River is above flood stage in Augusta and North Sydney and expected to drop sometime Friday, Hawley said.

“The cold weather last night really helped slow things down,” he said. “And it’s really going to be nice the next couple days to melt the snow.”

A flood warning was issued for the Penobscot River near West Enfield.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the 50s during the day and drop down below freezing at night, Hawley said, with no major precipitation events expected over the next week.

Numerous roads are closed around the state due to rising waters or runoff from rapidly melting snow. The Maine Department of Transportation’s website contains up-to-date information on those road closures at http://www.511.maine.gov/main.jsf.

The Aroostook Medical Center has teamed up with LifeFlight of Maine to assist as needed if residents need medical transport out of flood areas cut off due to road closures. The hospital took this step after local flooding caused road and bridge closures that isolated the east side of Fort Fairfield as well as the Washburn community, according to Daryl Boucher, director of emergency services and critical care at TAMC.