RUMFORD —  During one scary moment on Wednesday afternoon, it seemed that flash flooding from severe thunderstorms was about to wash Karen Blanchard’s grandfather’s house across South Rumford Road toward the Androscoggin River.

Up to six inches of rain that fell in a short time sent a river flowing past one end of the house and another river past the other end, while a third headed straight for the barn.

“Water was coming down on either side of the house and more water came right toward the barn, but there is a 4-inch sill at the base of it and it hit that and went around the barn,” she said.

That sill saved the house and barn, she believes.

The deluge started at 4:30 p.m. Blanchard said she wasn’t aware it was going to get dangerous very quickly until the hail started.

“It was raining very hard and the only thing that told me the weather was changing was, I could hear the hail hitting the tin roof,” she said.

What she didn’t hear while walking across the second floor were high winds that ripped her grandfather’s 100-year-old basswood tree off its stump several feet up from the ground. It dropped across the yard and halfway into South Rumford Road.

“It must have floated down, because I didn’t hear any noise and that would have made a big noise,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard lives in the house with her friend Jim Powers.

She said she couldn’t believe how much water was flowing past the house.

“Perennial and seasonal brooks and even brooks that hadn’t flowed before were all water filled and flowing,” Blanchard said. “Everything that could hold water was full and flowing down the hill, and then the culverts all filled with silt and the water went over the road.”

Blanchard and Powers kept their nine cords of wood piled neatly in stacks across the road from their house. They couldn’t believe it was still there come Thursday morning and not in their large pond in the field down below near the Androscoggin River, which was the color of milk chocolate from all the eroded silt.

“The water was 3 feet deep going through the stacked wood piles, and then it came over the road,” Blanchard said. “James said he couldn’t believe we didn’t have nine cords in the pond.”

Powers used a chain saw to cut branches up. Blanchard carried them across the road and over a plank of wood to a growing pile. Muddy floodwaters flowed under the board, carving out the road’s shoulder until falling in a short waterfall into a large eroded section.

Looking at their once pristine and pretty pond that Thursday resembled a vat of liquid chocolate, Blanchard said she hoped it would recover.

She said the pond has pike in it from the river when the Androscoggin would overflow its banks, sending fish into the pond and leaving them there as the water receded. River otters and osprey would fish for the pike.

Blanchard said Wednesday’s torrential downpour and high winds was the worst storm to hit the area in many years. She said it was worse than Tropical Storm Irene, which drenched and pounded Rumford on Aug. 28, 2011.

“When Irene came through, the brooks all (stayed in their channels), but not yesterday when all the wood debris and silt came down the brooks and into the culverts, jamming them,” Blanchard said.

She said her father recalled a worse event that happened in the 1930s when something let loose above the yard, sending huge boulders rolling down.

“They had to bring in the Army Corps of Engineers to remove them,” she said.

Despite having to work for hours Thursday clearing basswood branches, Blanchard said she was relieved the damage wasn’t worse had the tree fallen on the house and the sill not held back the floodwaters.

“There were a lot of little miracles yesterday,” she said.

Farther down South Rumford Road, which along with Hall Hill Road remained closed Thursday, about a foot of muddy water stood over the westbound lane and double-yellow centerline.

A homeowner was using a bright orange tractor to remove mud and gravel from the pavement.

Beyond that, the road came to an abrupt end just beyond its intersection with Hall Hill Road. Wednesday’s flash flooding overran Hall Hill Road and washed out sections of it coming down the hill toward South Rumford Road. On that road, the flood gouged out a 12- to 14-foot-deep gully, exposing two sewer pipes.

Donald Tibbetts of Jay, a Maine Department of Transportation bridge maintenance supervisor, was directing dump trucks loaded with gravel to one side of the stream running beside Hall Hill Road. An MDOT excavator operator was building a berm to keep the water away from both roads should more rain fall on Thursday, Tibbetts said.

 When that was finished, Tibbetts had the dump truck operators unload gravel along the south side of the hole so the excavator could push it into place to build up a travel lane.

Rumford native Louise Stickney photographed the operation and marveled at the damage.

“Unbelievable,” she said. “Irene did damage but I don’t think it was this bad. This all happened in a short period of time, too. During Irene, we have a little stream on our property and that overflowed its banks, but it didn’t this time, so go figure. I think it was because it was so localized and the worst of it was in this area.”

Roads that were closed through the night Wednesday remained closed to through traffic Thursday, except for Sunnyside Terrace in Rumford’s Virginia neighborhood.

Town Manager John Madigan said a Rumford Public Works crew was repairing that damage to prevent additional rain expected Thursday from washing out the road again.

He said it was too early to determine just how many thousands of dollars in damage Rumford roads sustained. He and Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell were still assessing the damage.

“There are so many small spots, any one of which could be minor damage,” Madigan said.

“The worst hit roads were South Rumford and Wyman Hill, but those are state roads, and Hall Hill Road. Half of that road washed out, and Royal Avenue was damaged, and on Sunnyside, a streambed filled in with silt and water overran the road. So we had to do something to just get that open. Otherwise, more rain would have done more damage.”

He said Mexico didn’t sustain any damage to his knowledge.

“It was almost like the storm came in across Mount Zircon, crossed the (Androscoggin River), went down Route 2 and Dragoon Avenue into Virginia,” Madigan said. “I lost a lot of tree limbs in my yard, so the storm cut one swath right through the middle of Rumford.”

He said two sewer lines were exposed on South Rumford Road.

“The one positive thing is that the sewer lines didn’t break, but they were bent like snakes,” he said. “The force of that water had to be unbelievable.”

Madigan said he didn’t think the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help pay for the damage because the storm didn’t meet its threshold: a major disaster costing more than $1 million that affected more than one town.

“But it was certainly a disaster for the people who lived along Mount Zircon,” he said.

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