Wet, wet and getting wetter.

That was the forecast Sunday as fire departments responded to waterlogged basements, drivers found new routes home, reports of submerged roadways poured in and emergency officials watched the rivers for the worst.

Road damage in Androscoggin County alone totaled almost $1 million at 10 p.m., according to Joanne Potvin, director of the Androscoggin County Emergency Management Agency. She estimated countywide road damage at $907,000 Sunday night, with 12 of 14 municipalities reporting.

Statewide, the Department of Transportation estimated more than 30 roads had closed, most in central and western Maine. Another 120 were down to one-lane travel or heavily damaged.

In Rumford, police closed Route 2 on Sunday because the Androscoggin River was above the road.

In Lewiston, several families opted to stay on the dead-end Old Farm Road after a road near Stetson Brook washed out.

At Auburn Public Works, Director Bob Belz counted hundreds of spots of minor damage, most in the shape of new potholes.

“The water has saturated the roads and traffic has mushed it up,” he said.

Auburn officials closed North River Road just after 10:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Androscoggin in the Twin Cities, anticipating it would reach 17.5 feet by noon Monday.

That’s nearly 4 feet above flood stage. At that height, expect the basement at Roak Block in Auburn to flood, along with South River Road, Ferry Road, River Road and a portion of Lincoln Street in Lewiston, said Potvin.

Belz said that at 17 feet he would look for closures in Auburn on Miller Street, Newbury Street and parts of Hackett Road and Pulsifer Street.

In Oxford County, Canton fire Lt. Jim Dyment said early Sunday evening that the rising Androscoggin River and “very high” streams and brooks were worrisome. Families in flood-prone areas were visited Saturday, encouraged to pack emergency bags and wait for the blare of the fire department’s air raid horn to evacuate.

“Most people are still here and they’re waiting for the signal,” Dyment said. “We’ve learned from the 2003 flood, and we are trying to give people advance warning.”

Dixfield, Mexico and Rumford firefighters were busy monitoring rivers and streams, keeping a close eye on an ice jam between Rumford Center and Rumford Point that sent the Androscoggin over its banks in several places.

By 8:45 p.m., the river was backing up behind the jam and creeping over the eastbound Route 2 emergency lane.

Route 2 in Bethel near the New Hampshire border washed out earlier in the day, said Dan Schorr, director of the Oxford County Emergency Management Agency. Crews were immediately sent to repair it. He counted 40 roads with damage or closure in his area.

Emergency officials notified 32 families in flood-prone areas in Durham about the possibility of flooding, mostly on Route 136 and Snow Road, and two other families on Ferry and Cedar Pond, local EMA Director Deborah Larrabee said.

“The next several days will be key” to watch for more potential flooding, said Potvin of Androscoggin EMA, with continued temperatures in the ’40s and ’50s leading to snowmelt and with more rain in the forecast.

The weather and poor roads didn’t keep everyone indoors. High water brought out people like Ellery Turner and Phyllis Fish of Peru who spent the day watching rivers and streams.

“There’s no sense in watching television today,” Turner said. “Our roof is leaking in two places – the bedroom and around the new stovepipe. But we’ve got a kettle on the bed, so we’ll survive.”

Freelance writer Connie Footman contributed to this report.


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