CANTON – More than 2 inches of rain that fell Thursday night into Friday, coupled with an emergency dispatcher’s call sending firefighters to Canton Dam, sparked fears the dam had breached.

Not so, said fire Chief Wayne Dube, standing along the dam on Whitney Brook early Friday evening with other Canton firefighters.

“If we feel that people living in the flood zone are in danger, we will advise them, but right now we fell pretty good there’s no danger,” Dube said.

Earlier in the afternoon, quickly rising waters in Lake Anasagunticook, which drains toward the dam through Whitney Brook, prompted concerns that back pressure would breach the dam. Water has been undermining the temporary dam.

“I’ve been told that 1 inch of water equals 1 million gallons,” Dube said. “At 4 to 5 o’clock, it didn’t look too bad, and then the lake started to fill up really high after 5 o’clock.”

He said Oxford County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Parker was apprised of the possibility that Canton could flood. Three 10-foot timbers on one side of the temporary dam in Whitney Brook near the regular dam’s floodgates were removed, reducing pressure on both dams but increasing brook flows toward the Androscoggin River.

“If we can get through tonight, we’ll be all set,” Dube said.

For four days straight, firefighters have been monitoring the temporary dam, which consists of four sections of 6- by 6- by 10-foot timbers stacked one atop the other. It was built in mid-May to try to keep water in the lake high enough to satisfy camp owners who live along it, Dube said.

Braced by four concrete abutments, it is located about 2,000 feet east of the lake.

Assistant fire Chief Mark Blanchette said water was going over the top three boards on Thursday.

“It was rising fast, so we pulled out one of the 10-footers yesterday, another at 9 a.m. today, and the third one by 4 o’clock and that’s when it started balancing out,” Blanchette said

Officials will watch the situation through the night in case they have to shut down traffic on route 108 and 140 through town.

Blanchette said they had been closely watching Bixby and Cross roads, because Whitney Brook flows under bridges on those roads. If the water goes over both roads, firefighters will close Route 140, because that would go under next, Blanchette said.

At 8:45 p.m., Whitney Brook was overflowing its banks and hitting the bottom side of the Cross Street bridge, and still rising.

Blanchette, who ordered the road shut down earlier, said he expected the brook to overflow the road there sometime Friday night.

“When Mother Nature makes up her mind, you ain’t stopping her,” Blanchette said. “This is normal flooding for us, but not in June.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.