, Newburyport, MA

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March 15, 2010

Amesbury closes roads, flooding severe

AMESBURY - Public works crews are out in full force today setting up road closures in response to flooding events across town caused by an excess of 11 inches of rain that’s fallen since Saturday. The weekend storm, which is expected to linger through today and is currently approaching rainfall totals seen during the 2006 Mother’s Day storm, has residents’ sump pumps working overtime as it threatens to destabilize bridges and roadways across town. As of 1 p.m. DPW workers had closed down a number of streets and bridged access roads including Newton Road past the water treatment plant, the Fern Avenue Bridge, Greenleaf Steet at Park Pond, Lake Attitash Way at Kimball Road, Birch Meadow Road at Bridge, and Carriage Hill Road. A number of roads have been restricted to one lane due to flooding, including Beacon Street, Market Street beyond Fern Avenue, and Pleasant Valley Road from Buttonwood to the Merrimac town line. Downed trees and power lines that came down last night due to flooding conditions and high winds are responsible for closures at Lake Attitash Way and Newton Road Upper Bridge near the Tuxbury Pond Dam. DPW Director Rob Desmarais is asking residents to adhere to the road closures, as the water levels on closed streets represents a dangerous situation that threatens to worsen as the Powow River surges from rainfall further north. “We let some water out this morning,” Desmarais said earlier today, as he and Town Engineer Peter Manor inspected the Tuxbury Pond dam. Desmarais and Manor are concerned about several areas of town that have been affected by the weekend rain - a 1,200 foot, steep embankment along Pleasant Valley Road that threatens to give way, and the Powow River where it passes under the town. At 12:30 p.m. the river was charging with enormous force up to the back entrance of the former Powow River Grille dining room. “I’ve never seen it like this,” said Mad River Tavern Head Chef Nick Joiner. The town is encouraging residents and businesses to monitor water levels in basements and be cautious with gas and electrically powered water heaters, furnaces and other appliances if water levels continue to increase. The Senior Center has been opened as a shelter for those residents affected by flooding. For more information contact the Emergency Operations Center at 978-388-8161.

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