By CHRIS FASOLINO Press-Republican
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — In an area that faced heavy flooding this week, waters were subsiding and conditions seemed to be returning to normal by Saturday morning — at least for the time being.
Some roads that had been closed in the Town of Elizabethtown had been reopened by Saturday afternoon, Highway Superintendent Mike Drew said.
“The people that I evacuated are back where they were,” Drew said.
However, several roadways were still closed Saturday, including Hurricane Mountain Lane in Elizabethtown; Trout Pond Road in Chesterfield; Alden Pond and Loukes Lane in Essex; Clark Lane in Jay; Beede Lane, Holt Road and St. Huberts Road in Keene; Carlott Road and Trout Pond Road in Lewis; and Northwoods Club Road in Minerva.
County Route 10 in Lewis was closed between Hurley Road and State Route 22 in Wadhams. The Bartlett Bridge in Keene was closed, with a detour available on the Limekiln Road. The upper portion of Lincoln Hill Lane in Jay was flooded and impassable.
Drew said that the people who were still stranded in homes on Hurricane Mountain Lane had been contacted.
“We’ve been in touch with them. If they needed anything, we could certainly get something up to them, but at this point, they’re in good shape.”
That seemed to be the assessment of Sandra Jennings, a resident on Hurricane Mountain Lane.
“I’m stranded, but I don’t think for much longer,” Jennings said. “These road guys are great.”
However, Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said that he did not expect Hurricane Mountain Lane would be reopened Saturday, noting that localized intense rainfall had caused the problems there.
“It rained four-and-a-half inches in half an hour on that mountain,” Jaquish said.
That was Thursday evening, when, Jennings said, “it was a little scary.”
However, she kept a stiff upper lip amidst the storm.
“When you live in a place like this, in the Park, you’re accustomed to some hardships.”
Elizabethtown Town Councilman Ben Morris said that he had spoken with some people who serve as caretakers for property on Hurricane Mountain Lane. The caretakers made it up to the Hurricane Mountain Lane, partly by four-wheelers and partly by walking, and checked in with people who were stranded.
“Everybody was okay.”
Morris noted that even by Friday afternoon, conditions seemed to be better.
“I went down to the village just a few hours after we closed things down, and things had let up dramatically. The rivers seemed to have gone down five or six feet in just a few hours, once the rain stopped,” he said, referring to the Boquet River and to its tributaries, such as Barton Creek.
He said that he had not received any reports of major damage in the village.
However, there was damage on side roads — especially dirt roads — and private contractors were being hired to “haul some gravel up there” to refurbish them.
On Saturday, Jaquish was at work on a preliminary damage assessment.
“Every county is asked to add up how much damage they’ve had,” he explained, adding that there was “significant” damage to Hurricane Mountain Lane as well as some other roadways.
He also noted that while the flooding had abated, conditions in the immediate future would depend on whether the area continued to receive heavy rain.
“It’s all up to Mother Nature now,” Jaquish said.
Likewise, Morris sounded a cautionary note: “If the rain had kept up for a few more hours, we would have been in real big trouble.
“We need to remember that it could be worse down the line. The worst flood in Elizabethtown is one we probably haven’t seen yet.”