© 2024 Maine Public

Bangor Studio/Membership Department
63 Texas Ave.
Bangor, ME 04401

Lewiston Studio
1450 Lisbon St.
Lewiston, ME 04240

Portland Studio
323 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

PHOTOS: Rumford area residents grapple with aftermath of historic flooding

The Androscoggin River in Rumford reached historic levels this week, cresting at a flood stage of 22 feet. The rapidly rising water caused extensive damage to homes and businesses, and prompted the evacuation of dozens of residents.

On Wednesday morning, Christall Treadwell's property just off of River Road in Mexico looked more like a pond than a yard — except for several vehicles that were strewn about.

"We pretty much lost everything that you see out here — one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, vehicles," she counts. "The snowmobiles. The motorcycle. The golf cart."

A newly refurbished carriage house that she and her husband use for weddings and events was also damaged after water rose to waist level. Inside Treadwell's kitchen, a refrigerator now lays sideways on top of her stove after being carried by the water.

"It came through so quick," she said. "It came in off the mountain. And so it was coming this way from the brook and then it broke over and we noticed it, and my husband tried to get my car out and it stalled, and the current was so swift, he barely made it to his truck and got it over there."

Treadwell said they eventually had to evacuate by boat. Now, they're focused on getting water out of their basement and the furnace up and running. Treadwell said the situation is overwhelming. Even so, she counts herself more fortunate than others.

At Mountain Valley High School gym in Rumford, volunteers take donated clothes from plastic bags and neatly fold and stack it onto tables.
Patty Wight
/
Maine Public
At Mountain Valley High School gym in Rumford, volunteers take donated clothes from plastic bags and neatly fold and stack it onto tables.

Inside the Mountain Valley High School gym in nearby Rumford, volunteers take donated clothes from plastic bags and neatly fold and stack it onto tables. The gym is serving as an emergency shelter for residents displaced by the flooding. Volunteer Amanda Provencher said in addition to clothing, they're also collecting household items for the roughly 40 people using the shelter as of Wednesday.

"Some people lost everything," she said. "Some people don't know if they've lost everything. Some people had five minutes to leave their home and grab what they could."

Joshua Kenney was among the people who had just minutes to leave his apartment. He lives on the third floor, but said the building's basement was completely flooded.

"You open the basement door, you couldn't even see down the stairs to get in," he said. "And it was coming through the cracks on the porch."

It was especially traumatic for his first floor neighbor, Fran Bradford, who evacuated with her husband and two cats.

"I'm actually not dealing with it very well," Bradford said. "Ya know, surprisingly. Because I'm usually the rock."

Bradford said they moved what they could up high, but most of their belongings are ruined.

"I've never been in a natural disaster before, and I didn't now what to do. I've just never been there before," Bradford said.

Fran Bradford evacuated her Rumford first floor apartment with her husband and two cats.
Patty Wight
/
Maine Public
Fran Bradford evacuated her Rumford first floor apartment with her husband and two cats.

Rumford town manager Stacy Carter said flooding from the storm also affected several businesses and caused substantial damage to the town's recreation facility, which is an important hub for kids.

"This has been a year of a lot of rain and a lot of damage," he said. "This one put us over the top."

Recovery will take time, Carter said. But the community is doing what it can to help those most in need.

A flooded football field in Rumford, Maine on Dec. 20, 2023
Brian Bechard
/
Maine Public
A flooded football field in Rumford, Maine on Dec. 20, 2023