Kent ice dam no longer a threat, officials say
KENT — Officials are no longer worried about the threat of flooding or road closures stemming from an ice dam that formed on the Housatonic River last month.
The town is still in a “civil preparedness” state of emergency so it can easily get resources if the river again floods. But, First Selectman Bruce Adams said, “it appears the worst of it is behind us.
“I nor anyone else has a crystal ball, but it appears we dodged a bullet,” Adams said.
The situation was much more threatening three weeks ago, when the dam reached nearly two miles in length and the resulting flooding forced a dozen residents from their homes and prompted a weeklong closure of the Kent School, a private boarding school along the riverbank south of the town center.
Flooding also forced the closure of about four miles of Route 7, the town’s main street, in two intervals totaling nearly a week. At one point, the river rose to a depth of four feet over the road in less than an hour.
State Rep. Brian Ohler, who helped run an emergency management team in Kent for more than two weeks, said water-level forecasts suggest further flooding is unlikely.
Water levels will likely crest at seven feet Wednesday downriver in the Gaylordsville section of New Milford, Ohler said.
Flooding becomes a possibility when levels in that area rise above eight feet, Ohler said.
“Everything played out the way we wanted,” Ohler said.
Officials had hoped that rain and temperatures in the mid-40s for several consecutive days would prompt a “slow thaw” of the dam that would prevent serious flooding of the area.
At its largest, the dam was 12 feet thick in spots.
Ohler said water is running freely now, but about a half-mile of the river is still full of large chunks of ice. The town will lift its state of emergency when all the larger chunks break up or move downriver, he said.
Meanwhile, Kent has seen an uptick in tourism in the normally slow winter season.
Business owners reported summer-like foot traffic on a warm weekend late last month and said “ice tourism” was profitable.
“We call them ‘ice peepers,’ as opposed to ‘leaf peepers,’ ” Adams said.
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