Twin Cities cope with flood aftermath

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Auburn Public Works employees examine a large sinkhole at the end of Troy Street in Auburn on Friday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

A round of early-evening thunderstorms caused fresh havoc Friday.

In Jay, lightning was suspected to have caused a fire that engulfed a garage at 63 Warren Hill Road at about 5:30 p.m. No one was hurt in the blaze and fire crews had the flames under control in about an hour. Jay fire officials were investigating later Friday.

In Turner, trees, utility poles and power lines were reported down in several areas of the town, including Upper and Lower streets and the area around Leavitt Area High School, where trees toppled across roadways.

Some believe a tornado touched down during the height of the storm, although that had not been confirmed Friday night. More than a thousand homes lost power in Turner as the storm swept through.

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On Main Street in Livermore Falls, the Dollar General Store was rattled at about 6 p.m. when lightning cracked down from stormy skies. No damage was caused and fire crews later determined that lightning had struck nearby, but not the store itself.

Trees were reportedly knocked down in various places and in Monmouth, a lightning strike was suspected of starting a grass fire on Norris Hill Road.

The Lewiston-Auburn area was largely spared, in contrast to intense rains that fell the day before. Trees were reported down in heavily wooded parts of Auburn, but the rain was light and thunder barely rumbled in Lewiston.

Public Works crews were busy Friday assessing damage from Thursday afternoon’s flash flooding in the Twin Cities’ downtowns.

Auburn Public Service Department Director Dan Goyette stood peering over the edge of a gaping hole at the end of Troy Street where a failed drainpipe caused the pavement to collapse near the intersection of Turner Street.

A city backhoe was positioned nearby, readied for the new project.

A 2-foot diameter corrugated metal pipe near a storm drain had failed during a sudden downpour late Thursday afternoon that sent fire, police and Public Works crews scrambling. Portions of Center Street and other Twin Cities’ areas were flooded by more than a foot of water as some motorists struggled with stalled vehicles.

The collapsed pipe created a sinkhole that measured 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep, Goyette said.

The roadway failure was called in by the Auburn Water District, which was in the area spraying paint for future excavation.

“They noticed a hole in the pavement,” Goyette said. “They called us and here we are.”

The failed pipe will be replaced next week, he said. Troy Road will be closed until that work has been completed, he said.

This isn’t the first time pavement has collapsed on a city street, he said, though it is one of the larger sinkholes he’s seen here.

“There’s old infrastructure in the city, so it happens every so often,” he said. “We’ve had a number of these already this year.”

Fire Chief Robert Chase said flooding on “a decent stretch” of Center Street was reported at 3:47 p.m. Thursday. A motorist told a dispatcher that water in the roadway was beginning to surround that driver’s vehicle, which had stalled, but was started later and driven away.

Fire and law enforcement officials helped direct traffic in that area, but managed to keep the four-lane street open until the floodwater receded, Chase said.

Fire officials responded to a call at an apartment building at 296 Turner St. where water was leaking from a light fixture. A city electrician resolved the problem, Chase said.

In Lewiston, dispatchers fielded more than a dozen calls for hazardous conditions, including parts of busy downtown Lisbon and Canal streets and Bartlett Street, Lt. David St. Pierre said.

“We definitely had several locations that were called in that were impassable,” he said. Bartlett Street was closed at the base of that hill, he said.

The downpour created hazardous conditions for more than an hour before the rain subsided. Water levels receded eventually, leaving some roads layered with sand and other debris, but leaving no lasting damage, he said.

“The city had quite a bit of stuff cleaned up by this morning,” he said.

An early evening storm caused damage across Turner Friday as trees and wires came down in several areas of the town. Here, a tree toppled in a trailer park near Snell Hill Road, crushing a 12 X 16 gambrel shed beneath it.

An early evening storm caused damage across Turner Friday as trees and wires came down in several areas of the town. Here, a tree toppled in a trailer park near Snell Hill Road, crushing a 12 X 16 gambrel shed beneath it.

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