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Flash flooding wreaks havoc in area
RUMFORD/MEXICO- The threat of off and on rain and thunderstorms for the better half of last week was no help to the already saturated ground, especially after Wednesday’s storm which dropped more than three inches of water in less than an hour.
Businesses along Congress Street in Rumford fell victim to overflowing water drains and Route 2 and Highland Terrace in Mexico saw severe flash flooding.
The Sun Journal office, Lennox Capital Management, Ink Plaza and Ink Maine were all mopping up water from their restrooms and basements after, what appeared to be an overflow in the sewer line for those corners of the two blocks.
Public Works supervisor, Andy Russell, stated, “When we took a look at what happened, it looked to us that the roof vent over Ink Maine and Ink Plaza were vented into the sewer drains. Causing the water to be forced out the first elevation it came to, their toilets.”
Kris Howes of Ink Maine was not only trying to keep the water from reaching his store front from his bathroom, but didn’t realize that water was running through his electrical panel in the basement, into his furnace and making a muddy mess of the basement floor.
“I’m just glad I was still here when it happened,” stated Howes. “Who knows what it would have looked like if I wasn’t.”
Ink Maine had to close their doors for the latter part of the week due to wet floors and electrical issues. Howes figured he lost close to a thousand dollars by having to close up shop, not to mention the cleaning that now has to be done upstairs, as well as downstairs where all of his production items were stored.
Next door at Ink Plaza, Randall and Cherry Smith had just finished meeting with the furnace technician, as their furnace had gotten wet, too.
“From what I can see,” stated Randall. “It’s poor infrastructure. The pipes aren’t connected to the right drains. I do have to say that the town responded quickly.”
That block, which lines Congress, Exchange and Canal streets, is owned by Peter Hatzis from Massachusetts.
Meanwhile across the street, Lennox Capital Management had a backed up sewer in their basement and Sun Journal offices had drain water throughout their restroom.
Rumford Code Enforcement Officer stated that the issue at hand was not a code issue. “Years ago tieing the roof drains into the sewer lines may have been allowed. It’s not now, but unless there is significant impact to the sewer lines, they don’t have to be changed.”
In talking with Russell, who has been with public works for the past 25 years, stated that never before has he seen that kind of damage happen from that amount of rain.
On the other side of the bridge, Mexico was hit hard with washouts along Highland Terrace and Oakdale Country Club had some severe flooding that washed the course down into Route 2, carrying the WOXO shed to the edge of the road.
Carol Mitchell, Club Manager, stated they had trees that were falling over from the amount of water that eroded bankings, washouts throughout the driveway and course and some major flooding.
“We had quite a bit of damage up here. But, thankfully we have an amazing group of volunteer members who came out first thing the next morning to get things repaired.”
Oakdale was expecting to host a two-day Maine State Golf tournament on Friday and Saturday, and needed to get things back to normal quickly.
“We’re looking good,” stated Mitchell. “Everyone pitched in raking, shoveling, cutting trees and filling holes. Our volunteers did a great job.”
Down over the hill from the course, the WOXO building saw rising waters, with the only damage being that of an outbuilding being relocated nearer the edge of the road.
At the corner of Route 2 and Highland Terrace, more than a foot of water rose across the road.
By midday on Thursday, town crews had the damage cleaned up.
To add insult to injury, downpours through the weekend caused the water to back up once again in the Sun Journal basement, as well as Ink Maine.
"I'm closed for another couple of days," stated Howes. "This time my basement is completely soaked, I have a truckload of stuff that has to be trashed."
The weather report doesn't look promising for this week, as flash flood warnings are still in effect for the area through tonight.