Kennebec River Floods Areas in Hallowell, Damages Businesses & Submerges Vehicles

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HALLOWELL, Maine. (WABI) - Melting snow and steady rain followed by freezing temperatures caused severe flooding along the Kennebec River.

Businesses in downtown Hallowell reported flooded basements while car owners were on the phone Monday with insurance adjusters after finding their vehicles submerged in frozen water.

"We didn't expect this."

Andrew Terlesky moved from Massachusetts to Hallowell last summer with his girlfriend. He lives in a loft above Water Street and says he was returning home early Sunday morning and nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the time.

"We walked in at 1:00 AM in the morning and everything was just fine- there was no water, no anything here. And then like I said at 7:30 in the morning we woke up and it was just covered," said Terlesky.

His girlfriend's Hyundai Accent and his Subaru Forester were among more than a dozen vehicles found later Sunday morning completely submerged in ice.

"Once it started getting cold we knew there was nothing you could do, so all I did was just call the insurance company," said Terlesky.

The unexpected ice jam late Saturday night caused severe flooding in downtown Hallowell, submerging cars and damaging several businesses.

"It just happened so quickly. That water literally came up probably six feet inside of about three minutes."

Wayne Hyde bought the Kennebec Wharf last August and was expecting to see water in this flood-prone spot come spring, but not this early in the winter.

"That was the thing that surprised us. To me, I expected to get some kind of water but I was thinking spring and to get this, especially after how cold it was. I mean I know we had a lot of rain and some warm temperatures, but it was brutally cold for weeks," said Hyde.

The lower-level doors of his bar were still flooded and frozen shut Monday afternoon.

"So at this point, we're just waiting for the water to recede so we can go in. I have some pumps, we have torpedo heaters," said Hyde.

Public Works used bucket loaders to break up ice to get the water underneath flowing and out of parking lots. Business owners and tenants along Water and Front Streets say they'll be spending the next few days assessing the damage and determining their next steps.

"I'm not happy but no one got hurt. We got everything up as best we can, we got everybody out. We can clean, we can pick up," said Hyde.