HALLOWELL — Wayne Hyde was standing on the bank of the Kennebec River on outside his bar, Hydeout at the Wharf, watching chunks of ice float downstream in the fast-moving river.

The promise of widespread heavy rainfall Friday prompted emergency managers to post warnings about flooding Saturday along the Kennebec in Augusta and Hallowell and to close off parking to riverfront areas in both cities.

And although the rain fell Friday, the flooding did not appear Saturday.

Early forecasts indicated high water would occur overnight Saturday into Sunday, and a 90 percent of minor flooding, and forecasters were concerned about ice jams forming.

While ice had formed on the river and covered most of it from Augusta to just north of Gardiner, the ice was not thick, and much of it had washed downriver by Saturday afternoon. And by that time, the projected peak flow of the river continued to drop until even minor flooding was no longer expected.

By midafternoon, the National Weather Service had lifted its areal flood watch for Kennebec County; no river flood warning had been posted.

The Hallowell Department of Public Safety also sent an advisory that the flood warning or watch had been canceled.

Hyde said city officials had been in contact with him since earlier in the week to alert him to possible flooding and updated him regularly.

“We emptied everything out,” Hyde said. “We took furniture out. We took mostly everything out. Everything that’s in there in the closets or in the coolers or in the walk-ins is waist-high or above. Everything that could get damaged is gone.”

And even with everything packed away, Hyde said, the bar was open Friday and he planned to have it open all weekend.

Not long after, Jennifer Corey Meehan stopped by to check on the height of the water.

“My husband is one of two bartenders at Easy Street, and he’s particularly on alert,” Corey Meehan said, referring to a neighboring bar.

In January, both Hyde and Corey Meehan had front-row seats to a surprise flood. An apparent breakdown in communication between county and local emergency management officials resulted in downtown residents and business owners not being told about the threat of flooding.

After weeks of abnormally cold weather, a January thaw accompanied by heavy rain across the region caused river ice to break up and form a jam in the river at Hallowell. Fast-rising water flowed into a number of basements and submerged cars in Hallowell.

“We were at Easy Street with the flood and quite literally saw it rise in a matter of 20 minutes,” she said. “We bore witness to it firsthand, and it happened so fast, we’re sort of on 24-7 watch now. We’re all waiting to see if we have run down at a moment’s notice and move furniture and instruments.”

William Watson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said the front that brought the rain to the region Friday and Saturday, ushering in winter, was moving out by late afternoon, and temperature across the region had started falling to more seasonal levels.

Watson said 1.88 inches of rain fell at the Augusta State Airport, 1.6 inches fell in Waterville and 2 inches fell at Windsor.

And that should be all the precipitation that falls until later this week, Watson said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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