Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Report aims at preparing a Maine town for major flood

Julia Bayly in the Bangor Daily News: As the two-year anniversary of almost record-breaking spring flooding nears, the federal agency tasked with helping the affected area has released a study aimed at preparing for the next big flood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency earlier this month released “Living Behind the Levee, Fort Kent, Maine: Knowing the Threat, Anticipating the Vulnerability” to the Town Council.

“As a result of [Hurricane] Katrina, FEMA noticed it needs to do more beyond a disaster to help communities get back on their feet,” said John Bannen, Fort Kent director of planning and economic development. “FEMA has looked at us and said we are at risk for a future flood, and we need to plan.” The 100-page report, according to Bannen, covers what led up to the April 2008 flood, available resources and how to mitigate future flood risks.

In late April that year, 3 inches of rain came at the worst possible time and combined with melting snow to raise the St. John River 8.1 feet in less than 24 hours. By the evening of Wednesday, April 30, the river surged to 29.9 feet, well above the 25-foot flood stage.

…With water pouring over a large part of East Main Street, a portion of West Main Street and down several residential roads, officials cast worried eyes to the 3-decade-old earthen dike constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers specifically to protect downtown Fort Kent from the St. John River. When the floodwaters receded and the Fish and St. John returned to within their banks, left in their wake were tons of natural and man-made debris.

…As bad as the damage was, Bannen said, it could have been far worse had the waters overrun the dike and flooded the downtown business district. “We were lucky that time,” he said. “We may not be so lucky next time.” According to the FEMA report, there will be a next time….

Wrong town, wrong year... but it's still Maine: River Road in South Turner, Maine, during the 1896 flood along the Androscoggin River. Turner resident Joe Conant is seen standing in front of School No. 1, also known as Lower River School. Retouched by MarmadukePercy

No comments: