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Landslide blocks Presumpscot River in Westbrook, state of emergency declared

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for the area until 11 p.m.
The Westbrook Fire Department is now trying to come up with a plan to clear the landslide.
The Westbrook Fire Department is now trying to come up with a plan to clear the landslide.(WABI)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 2:45 PM EDT
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WESTBROOK, Maine (WMTW) - A state of emergency has been issued due to a landslide that has blocked the Presumpscot River in Westbrook.

Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley issued the state of emergency Wednesday afternoon.

“River flow is being controlled by Sappi here in the city, and there’s no imminent danger. We do advise that folks do not respond to the area to attempt to view the damage,” Foley said.

The landslide was reported at about 11:15 a.m. behind 155 Warren Ave., fire Chief Andy Turcotte said.

Turcotte said the fire department is working on a plan to clear the landslide.

One option is to bring in heavy equipment to clear a channel to get water flowing. Turcotte said a major challenge is the area where the landslide occurred is not easy to reach.

Turcotte said flooding is a concern in the area. Officials hope the water will create a natural channel, preventing the need for an extensive operation to clear the landslide.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the area until 11 p.m. due to the flooding concern. If the landslide were to give way suddenly, flash flooding downstream is possible.

River levels behind the slide are receding after rising rapidly during the afternoon. The river level peaked at 13.34 feet at about 2:30 p.m. Minor flood stage for the river is 15 feet.

Officials urged people to stay out of the area due to safety concerns.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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