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Flooding still threatens northeast

BY SUSAN KIM | Randolph, MA | March 23, 2001


"March came in like a lion -- and stayed there."

—Peter Judge


More snow moved into the northeast Monday night, renewing threats of flooding from rivers still swollen from

weekend rain.

The Concord River in northeastern Massachusetts is above flood stage. In the town of Billerica, sandbags were being made available.

Localized flooding has already taken place in Medford in areas near the river.

Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci is asking for federal disaster aid for seven Massachusetts

counties. Trees and debris are littering many roads, and many bridges and roads are washed

out. Several hundred homes were affected by the flooding.

In New Hamphshire, some 70 homes saw basement flooding, with some contaminated by

spilled sewage. Portsmouth was hardest hit, with Dover and Nashua also reporting

flood-damaged homes.

In Massachusetts, seven inches of rain fell on top of 2-4 inches of snowmelt water, said Peter

Judge, public information officer from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency,

resulting in "very serious flooding."

Some rivers and creeks broke record highs, he said.

Many homes in Middlesex and Essex counties have flooded basements, and roads were covered with water Friday. In Randolph,

flooding caused a sewer cover to pop open, sending raw sewage floating into several homes. A few residents chose to evacuate their

homes and are staying with family or friends, or in local hotels.

The same neighborhood was flooded with raw sewage in 1996. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority reported that the

problem is not the state's but Randolph's because the town's sewers are old and may need repairs.

As sewage overflow drains back into reservoirs, it could contaminate the water supply, warned the town's board of health officials.

Since the reservoir supplies drinking water to Randolph, Braintree, and Holbrook, residents in those communities should boil their tap

water or use bottled water until further notice.

At least some residents were prepared for Friday's deluge because they had been hit with flooding in the past. The All Saints Episcopal

Church in Belmont -- a community that saw nearly seven inches of rain -- this year installed a drainage system. "We had been hit

continuously with flood damage," said Cathy Zolner, parish administrator. "There was repeatedly a mini river floating through the

rectory basement, causing damage and health problems. In addition, we have a spring that runs through the middle of the parking lot

and we're at the base of a hill."

Even with this record-breaking rain, All Saints took in no water, she added.

"March came in like a lion -- and stayed there," said Judge.


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