CANTON — The completion of a boat ramp on Whitney Brook off Lake Anasagunticook this week is the latest step in the recovery of a town devastated by a flood 10 years ago.

On Dec. 18-19, 2003, the Androscoggin River overflowed its banks and damaged more than 40 homes in Canton.

With the assistance of resident Diane Ray, who wrote the grant requests, the town received funds from Federal Emergency Management Agency, Community Development Block Grant, Maine State Housing Authority and a whole tapestry of organizations. The money was used to buy the 40 homes and clear the land.

The land is now being used by the community, and a sense of rebuilding that community prevails.

Sue Gammon received grants to start a nature walk along Whitney Brook, an outlet to Lake Anasagunticook. Plants from the demolished properties were moved to the park and trail area so people could watch their plants continue to thrive in a new environment.

Tom and Jolene Adley took some of those plants, along with other donations, and built Heritage Park and its gazebo, located along Route 108. Trailhead parking is available, so people can easily access the nature walk. Volunteers keep the trails open and safe.

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The Girl Scouts have claimed some of the flood land, which cannot be used for building, and started a community garden, which is an ongoing project. The food grown by the Girl Scouts is donated to area food pantries. 

Three families also have plots.

When the old dam on Whitney Brook began to fail, a committee was formed. Through their efforts, a grant for $200,000 was received from CDBG to construct a new dam. 

Following the cleanup of the old tannery site around the dam, the land was reclaimed, and the way was prepared for the a new boat ramp, which will be completed July 19.

This progress was made possible by the endless hours of volunteers such as Diane Ray, Malcolm Ray, Sue Gammon, Jolene and Tom Adley and countless others.

Residents Canton and Hartford will hold a celebration of the Anasagunticook Dam at 3 p.m. Friday, July 19, at Whitney Brook. Light refreshments will be served.


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