Flooding closed one Aroostook County road over the weekend, but the situation appeared stable on Monday as meteorologists and emergency relief professionals monitored river water levels.
Grimes Road in Fort Fairfield, commonly referred to as North Caribou Road, was closed over the weekend as two portions were washed over by the Aroostook River. By Monday morning the road had reopened.
In Fort Kent, flood watchers are observing the St. John River, but ice has broken loose and chunks float freely.
It’s a change of pace from the plentiful jams and overflowing banks that have plagued the area in years past. That river is of particular concern, having flooded the town in 2008. No one was injured, but plenty of homes were damaged in the flood.
Though things appear calm at the moment, emergency management officials know there is no guarantee flooding will not occur again this spring.
“I would never say that until the snow is gone,” Aroostook Emergency Management Agency Director Darren Woods said Monday.
Water levels have been falling in the Aroostook River but rising in the St. John, he said.
Woods pointed out that ice jams are not the only potential flood instigators.
“What people need to remember is that in 2008 the ice was out of the rivers when the flooding happened so it wasn’t an issue with ice, it was an issue with rapid melt and heavy rain,” he said.
Aroostook Emergency Management maintains the social media page Aroostook County Flood Watch, where agency personnel and municipal officials from throughout the area post updates on conditions.
Over the weekend an ice jam in St. Francis broke apart, allowing free flow of St. John River water, according to one post. Fort Fairfield roads were opening since ice had gone over the Tinker Dam, located at the Aroostook River in New Brunswick, the page said.
A car in Caribou was unexpectedly caught in an ice jam over the weekend. While near the river, the car became stuck, Woods said. As a wrecker was on the way, the ice went over the Caribou dam and chunks surrounded the stranded vehicle, which illustrates how quickly conditions can change, he said.
No one was injured, according to the Caribou Police Department.
The National Weather Service has not issued a flood watch at this time, according to Louise Fode, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Caribou.
There was a flood advisory for the Aroostook River Sunday due to an ice jam upstream of Tinker Dam, but that has since let loose and ice out has commenced, Fode said.
“Right now what we’re seeing on the St. John River, water levels have been coming up as we would expect with the increased snow melt we’ve had over the past several days. We did see a jump in the water levels in Fort Kent along the St. John due to ice passing through,” Fode said.
As of Monday afternoon the St. John measured 16.53 feet. Minor flood level is 22.5 feet with the action stage being at 20.5 feet.
Fode said she does not anticipate enough rainfall to impact river water levels through Thursday.
River water levels can be viewed at the National Weather Service observation page.
Bangor Daily News writer Paula Brewer contributed to this report.