COLEBROOOK – For several hours Tuesday night this town along the Connecticut River was a veritable island, said town manager Becky Merrow, with floodwaters making three of the four highways in and out of the community temporarily impassable.
As of Wednesday morning, “everything is open except Roaring Brook Road,” said Merrow, “but for a while last night, Colebrook was a bit of an island with routes 3, 145 and 26 all closed and 102 at the Columbia Bridge was also closed.”
Luckily, there was only one request for an ambulance during the closures, Merrow said, but it wasn’t an urgent situation, although three motorists were stranded and had to be assisted by tow trucks.
“People are telling me that they haven’t seen the Mohawk River that high in decades,” said Merrow, who added that as of early Wednesday morning, the worst seemed to be past, although “we do still have snowpack in the woods, and it snowed here this morning.”
Brian Schutt, the engineer for the N.H. Department of Transportation’s District 1 office in Lancaster, said at the height of the flooding his agency had 11 of its 17 crews working.
Asked to characterize the flooding, he replied, “It’s not major and it’s not minor. There‘s a fair amount of damage.” Most damage had been repaired Tuesday night and crews were expected to be back on duty Wednesday to finish the cleanup. Schutt said only two roads remained closed as of yesterday: Lost Nation Road in Northumberland and Guild Hall Road in Stratford, the latter closure due to flooding on the Vermont side of the Connecticut.
“Our employees responded effectively and I give them credit for being out in the worst conditions,” said Schutt, noting that Tuesday night’s rain changed into snow.
Carlton Eames, who is the fire chief in Errol, said the backwaters of the Androscoggin River were about four feet below road level, but the life-long residents added that in previous years, “I’ve seen it right up to the front door” of his automotive-repair shop.
Eames rated the flooding in Errol a six out of 10. “I’ve seen it a lot higher.” All the roads in town are open, he said, but there was still standing water on routes 16 and 26 because “the ditches are still all frozen over and the water seems to want to run in the road.”
Irving Joseph, who is Errol’s director of emergency management, said Clear Stream "came up significantly” but did not have an impact on public roads. He said the cold weather Tuesday into Wednesday was actually a good thing, helping to stop the flow of the floodwaters.
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State and town officials in the northern part of the state are dealing with flooding problems as overnight rains and melting snows caused water to overflow some riverbanks.
Some roads were closed in Stratford, Conway, Holderness, Shelburne, Plymouth and in the Haverhill/Woodsville area as a result, according to the state Department of Transportation Management Center in Concord.
A spokesman said at 7 a.m. that the Maidstone Bridge in Strafford was closed; Route 113, between East Conway and the Saco River, was shut down; Interstate 93 South at Exit 25 to Route 175A was closed; North Road, between Power and Meadow, in Shelburne was closed; Route 3 at Parker, near Crystal Springs, in Plymouth was closed; Route 135, between Route 10 an U.S. 302, was shutdown in the Haverhill/Woodsville area.
The National Weather Service is reporting minor flooding in Plymouth where the Pemigewasset River crested this morning at 16.79 feet, nearly four feet above flood stage. The Saco River in Conway also caused flooding when it peaked at 12.14 feet, more than four feet above flood stage.
The Connecticut River at West Lebanon crested at 21.17 feet, more than three feet about flood stage, and the Androscoggin River in Gorham also caused minor flooding but has yet to crest which is expected at 9.3 feet - more than two feet above its flood stage - later this morning.