HALLOWELL — Volunteers and city officials filled sandbags Saturday in an effort to help hold off Kennebec River floodwaters expected to crest at around 14 feet, completely flood Front Street, and enter the backs of Water Street buildings.

River flooding in Hallowell was expected to reach moderate levels Saturday afternoon and evening, while minor flooding also occurred in Augusta, North Sidney, Gardiner and Skowhegan. The rain-swollen Kennebec River flooded its banks in several spots Saturday morning, and was expected to crest Saturday evening, then start receding overnight and continue going down Sunday.

In Hallowell, the Kennebec was projected to crest at 14 feet Saturday night. National Weather Service Meteorologist Jon Palmer said at 13 feet in Hallowell water enters the backsides of Water Street buildings, Front Street is completely flooded, and the parking lot by the town docks is also expected to be flooded.

About a half-dozen city officials and volunteers spent some of their Saturday morning filling and placing sandbags around the door of Easy Street Lounge, which sits on the river-side of the aptly-named Water Street in downtown Hallowell.

Michael Frett, Ward 2 city councilor in Hallowell, said they found out Easy Street’s owner, Bruce Mayo, was ill with COVID-19 and thus unable to sandbag around his business so City Manager Gary Lamb put out a notice that the city would bring a load of sand and those who were able could come help.

About a half-dozen responded, including police Chief Chris Lewis and Mayor George LaPointe.


City councilor Michael Frett puts another sandbag in front of the back door of The Easy Street Lounge on Saturday along Front Street in downtown Hallowell. Frett and other volunteers set up the water barrier for the owner who was stuck at home sick. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We’ll fill some sandbags and put them around his door, because we know that’s how the water gets in,” Frett said. “So I grabbed a shovel, put on my boots and came down. We’re leaving the sand here and it’s available to other businesses in the area. I know I’ve spoken to some of the employees at the Quarry Tap Room. We’re leaving bags so they can come over, help themselves if they want to fill some sandbags, and use it.”

The sandbags were provided by Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency, Lewis said.

Palmer said there was minor flooding in Augusta, Hallowell, North Sidney and Skowhegan by midday Saturday, and those areas were expected to continue to have minor flooding on the Kennebec until the overnight Saturday, other than Hallowell where flooding was expected to be moderate.

He said there may be some scattered showers in the area but not enough to bring river levels back up once they recede. And that snowmelt is not really a concern, either.

“There’s nothing immediate in the next 24 to 48 hours that is concerning to us. I definitely think, once the rivers gauges cross (to lower than flood levels), they’ll stay down for at least a few days,” Palmer said. “We’re mostly melted out at this point. I can’t see snowmelt being a significant issue for the Kennebec.”

In Augusta on Saturday afternoon, the Kennebec continued to slowly climb, past the originally-projected peak of 16 feet, toward 17 feet, its revised projected peak high water level.


A person watches Saturday as the Kennebec River flows through the north end of the Front Street parking lot in downtown Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The city closed off the Front Street parking lot, which flooded over Saturday morning. A National Weather Service flood warning, issued Saturday that was to remain in effect until Tuesday morning, states that at 17 feet water reaches the back of some buildings on Water Street, and Mill Park is expected to flood.

Gardiner city officials closed the waterfront parking lot along the Kennebec as well as the Arcade Parking Lot alongside Cobbossee Stream. They asked people to move all vehicles from the lots in anticipation of it flooding Saturday, with a high tide expected to increase water levels Saturday evening. By mid-Saturday afternoon water had crept into both those closed-off areas. Only the tops of picnic tables and benches could be seen above the water in waterfront park.

In Skowhegan, well above any influence of the tide, the river appeared to be receding Saturday afternoon, after reaching just above minor flooding levels earlier.

Much of the tumultuous Kennebec River water turned brown Saturday, with logs and other debris washed out in the floodwaters bobbing as it flowed toward the sea.

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