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July 17, 2014

Torrents of rain flood Market Square, again

NEWBURYPORT — Sandbags were a common sight for anyone walking around Market Square the last two days as a series of quick-moving rainstorms flooded front entrances and strained the area’s drainage system.

Yesterday, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for Newburyport, Newbury and most of Essex County at 2:33 p.m. and extended it until 5:30 p.m.

Flash flooding concerns has been an ongoing issue for decades, according to city officials, and costs to remedy or improve drainage is likely to be expensive. Last week, several Market Square business owners voiced their concerns at a community meeting held inside the Green Street police station. While the topic at hand was Inn Street vandalism, the discussion quickly turned to flash flooding on Market Square.

“It’s pretty bad,” Pawsitively Best Friends owner Pamela Corkum said, about an hour after another flash flood brought water perilously close to her merchandise.

For Corkum, who just moved into the Market Square storefront last month, flooding has been a vexing issue. Recently, she has taken to placing sandbags in front of her store when rain gets heavy. Also, her landlord raised her floor and slanted it so any water would run out the front door.

“Despite that, the water gets in. Despite the sandbags, the water gets in,” Corkum said.

At the nearby Re/Max on the River, owners there switched from sandbags to a clear Plexiglas sheet. Those entering the business were required to step over the roughly 18-inch-tall sheet. Yesterday afternoon around 2 p.m. during the heaviest flooding, water came up to the front door. But as quickly as the water threatened to flood the store, the water receded once the heaviest band of rain passed over.

Re/Max on the River owner Sharon Cronin said the homemade door jams are slid into place upon the threat of heavy rain.

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