Thirty years ago Saturday, much of Eastern and Central Maine was underwater thanks to the Flood of 1987.
“We always joke about April 1st, but no joke in Dover-Foxcroft,” said Dover-Foxcroft Fire Chief Joe Guyotte.
“Has it been 30 years already? No, it doesn’t seem like 30 years. It almost seems like yesterday,” said Guyotte.
The flood saw rivers like the Piscataquis and Sebasticook overflow their banks.
“Everybody said, well it’ll come up a little bit and it’ll stop, but it just kept coming,” said Tim Robinson, owner of Dover True Value Hardware.
“And somebody said, you know the covered bridge broke. I said what do you mean the covered bridge broke. It’s coming down river,” said Guyotte.
Low’s Bridge in Guilford washed down the river before breaking apart as it approached Dover-Foxcroft.
“I just watched houses ripped and torn from their foundations and going down the river and cars going down the river and it was a pretty wild time,” said Guilford Town manager Tom Goulette.
The Main Street Bridge was impassible.
“I remember being trapped in the Guilford area where I lived and everybody that lived along the river and the respective towns coming down the river, they were trapped in their own towns,” said Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin.
No one was killed or seriously injured, but damage was well into the millions, with many businesses like this hardware store at least partially submerged.
Homes in low-lying areas had to be evacuated.
“There was a number of people that got their boats out and got some of the elderly people out of their houses that were stranded,” said Dover-Foxcroft Fire Captain Eric Berce.
Officials tell us these days, advancements in technology have made it easier to predict and respond to floods.
“We are prepared from a lot of the lessons that were learned in 1987. We know where our problem areas are now, so we would be able to get to them quicker,” said Berce.
Three years after the flood hit, the Low’s Bridge was rebuilt. It was raised and reinforced to make it less vulnerable to flooding. But of course folks in this area hope this river never rises that high ever again.