AUGUSTA — The Kennebec River peaked at about 15-and-a-half feet Saturday, more than 3 feet above flood stage, but the impact of flooding appeared to be largely limited. Past experience with river flooding meant many local building and business owners were prepared.

Wayne Hyde, owner of Hydeout at the Wharf, located in a flood-prone riverside spot on Front Street in downtown Hallowell, said some helpers came in Saturday and lifted everything off the floor and put it out of the water’s reach. The bar was already closed anyway due to state restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, so many of the things that’d normally be at risk to flooding were already gone.

“We came in today and lifted everything up,” Hyde said Saturday afternoon. “So everything is up off the floor, everything in the coolers is gone, everything in the walk-ins is gone. We’ve done this more than once. But we give homage to the river god, we give homage to her, you know.”

By 2 p.m. Saturday, which is about when forecasters predicted the river would reach its peak, it appeared that homage may have paid off, as water had just reached, but not flooded, the Hydeout at the Wharf. Hyde said he’s owned the business about three years and went through the first flooding there about four months into his ownership, when an ice jam caused flooding that trapped multiple vehicles that had been left on Front Street in Hallowell.

Water in the Kennebec rose Saturday due to flooding resulting from a Christmas Day storm that included significant rains and warm temperatures that combined to melt snow and cause some flooding in Maine.

The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service forecasted the Kennebec would peak at just over 15.5 feet at about 2 p.m. Saturday.


“I haven’t noticed it really going down but I have noticed it hasn’t continued to come up,” said Hyde, who used a couple of marks on the building to track the river’s movement up or down.

Kennebec River floodwaters lap at the back door of Downtown Yoga and other businesses Saturday in Augusta. A Christmas rainstorm, coupled with warmer temperatures and melting snow, meant several areas along the Kennebec River were in flood watch. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Upriver in Augusta, barricades and an electronic message sign blocked off the northern end of the riverside Front Street parking lot in the downtown Saturday as water from the river lapped up against the walls of a few buildings, including the lower level of 275-287 Water St. The second floor hosts Otto’s on the River restaurant and other businesses, and there are apartments on its upper floors.

Richard Parkhurst, owner of the building, said there is currently almost nothing on the lowest level of the building, so he wasn’t worried about flood damage. When the building was renovated several years ago, its utilities infrastructure was moved out of the basement to upper floors of the building, to get that out of the way of potential floodwaters entering the basement. For a while there was a yoga business on the basement level but the spot is currently empty.

“Those buildings are never in trouble anymore, we moved everything up two floors,” Parkhurst said Saturday. “There’s nothing down there at all.”

Public works officials in Augusta said they anticipated flood levels would start to recede later Saturday, but the parking lot would likely remain flooded until later Saturday or into Sunday. They said it will be cleaned and opened back up once it was safe to do so.

In Gardiner, much of the city’s waterfront park was underwater by mid-morning Saturday, including near the boat ramp and main entrance to the parking lot where there was a few inches of standing water extending across the entrance. A few people drove in and appeared to be checking out the high water on the flooded river. But by noon, Gardiner police closed the waterfront park lot and placed barricades and warned on its Facebook page that people should not drive past or move the barricades and should stay away from the high water.


Undeterred by warnings, geese and ducks swam around areas of the park that normally would be lawn.

Numerous logs and other debris could be seen floating down the fast-moving, flood-swollen Kennebec, its normally clear water turned brown by all the disturbed sediment.

Nearby, Cobbossee Stream was at the top of its banks along the Arcade parking lot in Gardiner, where about 30 cars and trucks were parked. By mid-morning the river had not entered the parking lot but by early afternoon it started to creep in. Police tried to warn owners of cars parked in the Arcade lot that they should move their vehicles. On their Facebook page, police indicated they had run the registrations of the vehicles and knocked on doors in the area but had been unable to reach the owners of some vehicles.

Tow truck driver Kevin Marstaller, left, hooks up a car just before 9 a.m. Saturday to get it out of the rising Kennebec River in downtown Hallowell. Hallowell Police Officer Chris Martinez, right, had called the tow truck as he was making sure all cars were out of the lot before putting up barricades. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In Hallowell, police had at least one vehicle towed from the riverside parking on Front Street to remove it from harm’s way. Barricades blocked access to Front Street near the Wharf.

An electronic message board placed downtown warned about the flooding and that Front Street would be closed and should not be used for parking until the floodwaters receded.

Hallowell Police Chief Scott MacMaster said officials there had been monitoring the river since Friday afternoon, closed off parking on Front Street, and did tow one car parked there Saturday morning.

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