Thaw Leads to Area Flooding

Traffic was briefly challenged at the corner of North and Washington by spot flooding. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

Temperatures of nearly 50 degrees following last week’s storm that delivered six inches of snow and nearly half an inch of ice produced copious amounts of flooding in trouble areas around Washington County on Thursday. Flood control in Calais was successfully managed by the Public Works Department which, per City Manager Mike Ellis, is nearing the end of its sand reserves as a result of the uncommonly icy season.

Flooding arose rapidly as the afternoon approached on Thursday, producing foot-high streams at high-traffic areas such as the corner of Washington and North in Calais. Other trouble areas outside of town included a stretch of Route 1 by the Redclyffe Motel. In St. Stephen, road conditions were bad enough to cause school closures.

In preparation of the melting, the Public Works Department worked throughout Wednesday to clear ice from the most frequently problematic catch basins, Director Skeet Seelye said. On Thursday itself, the crew mobilized rapidly to control flooded areas by improving drain access as more and more snow and ice melted into the streets, getting “plenty wet” as they did so. “I would like to thank the people who slowed down driving through the water while the crew was working,” Seelye said. “But as usual, there are the few who think it is funny to splash the guys.” 

Seelye said there weren’t any surprises from the storm for this time of year, elaborating that the crew responded to a few flooded basements and put down “a lot” of sand.

City Manager Ellis described the storm as “quite an event” that took a large bite out of the city’s road management resources. “The concern with the city is now sand and salt and what we’ve got remaining in the coffers before we have to get more,” Ellis said. “There are a lot of communities that are running out of sand and a lot of local contractors saying they’ve run out.”


Ellis said that the lack of salt and sand was a statewide if not regional issue that was affecting many municipalities, but said that he is not overly concerned based on Director Seelye’s extensive experience managing the roads. “I think Skeet and his guys do a great job doing what needs to be done.”