Conway’s emergency management director, Conway Fire Chief Steve Solomon, says River St. in East Conway is closed indefinitely after severe damage caused by last week’s flooding.
Solomon says rain and snow melt caused the road to flood Wednesday morning and after the water receded Thursday morning, an initial assessment determined there was significant damage but cars could still drive down the center of the road in a single lane. Barricades were later put back in place after it was determined the water had washed out a culvert that had either become blocked or failed for some other reason, making the road unsafe to drive on at all.
The chief says temporary solutions to re-open the road are being looked with the ultimate goal to replace the 4-foot diameter corrugated steel culvert with one made of concrete. The current damage could be as high as $300,000. The road is a popular connector over the Saco River between East Conway and Fryeburg, Maine.
The chief says the road could be closed from weeks to months. He says it’s a great example of why the town does not let people drive through flooded roads.
“With the water over that road, you could not see that the road was collapsed underneath it and if you tried to drive through it and hit that hole you could have been seriously injured or killed.”
Solomon says people who actually got out of their cars to move the barricades and drive around them are taking their lives in their hands.
He says the flooding caused damage in other areas of the state and it’s hoped Gov. Maggie Hassan will petition the federal government for a disaster declaration that could bring federal dollars for repairs.
A spokesman for the governor says emergency management officials are working with local officials to assess if the threshold has been met to qualify for a declaration.
Conway Town Manager Earl Sires says the town will pursue FEMA funding, if possible. He says he will brief Conway selectmen Tuesday afternoon on possible repair options for the road.