Flash floods damage dam in Porter; road closed

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PORTER — Emergency crews were on alert throughout the night after splash boards on the Colcord Pond Dam were washed away during heavy rain Tuesday, sending thousands of gallons of water downstream, washing out two roads and leaving several homes in jeopardy of being cut off.

No one was injured, but officials feared the nearby Bickford Pond Dam, which has been receiving much of the water from the overflowing Colcord Pond Dam, could exceed capacity and put that dam at risk, said Kezar Falls Village Assistant Fire Chief Chris Day. The water and dams on both ponds, which empty into the nearby Ossipee River, were being monitored on an hourly basis.

“We found the Colcord Pond Dam has not been breached structurally, but the splash boards broke out,” said Day of the wooden boards and metal screening that control the level of the pond. “They’re a safety value. They broke out around 9 a.m. That’s what caused our problem. We’re getting more water through the system than we can handle.”

The Maine Department of Transportation was called to Colcord Pond Road where a wide area of the road was underwater and partially collapsed, and Bickford Pond Road was also under water.

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Officials said one year-round home and a summer cottage on Hoover Point off Dam Road were in jeopardy of being cut off, but there were no forced evacuations. Dam Road connects Colcord Pond and Bickford Pond roads.

“They were warned to leave. They chose not to,” said Fire Lt. Jeff Dutil of the family on Hoover Point that he said included a man his girlfriend, his grandparents and another adult.

Other residents on Dam Road said they were not concerned about the area being evacuated.

Colcord Pond Road is a main artery through the town of Porter and the downtown section known as Kezar Falls Village. Day said the flooding affected about a quarter of the roads in the 40-square-mile town, and the road closure meant that some motorists would have to use detours and have a longer commute home.

“No one is stranded; they’re just inconvenienced,” he said.

Rain fell throughout the day as emergency crews from Porter and other surrounding fire departments, the Maine Forest Service and Bridgton Fire Department supplied air boats and converged to aid the small community of 1,400 year-round residents, which is 6 miles west of Freedom, N.H.

Day said the command post would continue to operate throughout the night at the Porter Town Hall assisted by the Salvation Army, which arrived in the afternoon with food for the emergency workers. Crews will evaluate the situation on an hourly basis.

Dutil said Tuesday afternoon that it was unclear how much damage would occur if the rain continued through the night. “If it rains straight for the next two days, we’ll have a problem,” he said.

Oxford County Emergency Management Director Scott Parker said Tuesday there was little concern about other rivers overflowing in Oxford County because snow melt had already occurred and water has had a chance to drain off, he said.

The Maine Emergency Management Agency posted flash-flood warnings Tuesday throughout southern Maine. It has advised that people stay away from flooded roadways, respect all markers and barricades, report any unmarked flooded areas to local officials and obey all official instructions, including evacuation warnings.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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