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Eye On Swollen Rivers As Rain Ends

Water from Long Pond laps across Lakeville residents' yards, submerging their basements. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)
Water from Long Pond laps across Lakeville residents' yards, submerging their basements. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)

Residents and emergency officials in Massachusetts were keeping on eye on swollen rivers around the state which still hadn't crested Wednesday even though nearly two days of relentless rain had finally ended.

Emergency Management Agency spokesman Scott MacLeod says the biggest concerns are in southeastern Massachusetts, which bore the brunt of the storm, forcing the closure of a major highway and isolating about 1,000 residents of Freetown when a bridge gave out.

North of Boston, Peabody District Court was closed Wednesday because floodwaters in the downtown area made it inaccessible. Some residents there were evacuated.

Water on the tracks forced Amtrak to suspend its Northeast Regional service midday Wednesday between Boston and New York, as well as its Acela Express service between Boston and New Haven.

Amtrak's Cliff Cole says the main track problem is in Rhode Island.

A local fireman in Freetown watch crews from the Army Corps of Engineers try to restore Narrows Road, which was washed out by heavy rains. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)
A local fireman in Freetown watch crews from the Army Corps of Engineers try to restore Narrows Road, which was washed out by heavy rains. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)

"(Because) of high water conditions in and around the area west of Kingston, R.I.," Cole said. "So at this point we don't have an estimate for when we can resume service because what we're waiting for is for the water levels in that area to go down to safe and acceptable levels."

MEMA's Peter Judge says the state's worst flooding may still be ahead.

"We are not out of the 'flood mode,' if you will, because it's probably going to be well into the beginning of next week before all these rivers and bodies of water out there fall back within their banks and we're out of the flooding mode," he said.

Judge says about 1,300 people throughout Massachusetts have already applied for federal disaster assistance. Gov. Deval Patrick says he will seek additional federal funding for hard-hit counties after President Obama declared the state a disaster area.

"I'm delighted that the president has acknowledged Massachusetts as a disaster area under the terms of his declaration," Patrick said, "and I will expect to add additional counties or additional damage on top of what we submitted after the previous two storms."

A flood washed out Narrows Road, the only street connecting a peninsula with the rest of Freetown. Residents have to board all-terrain vehicles operated by the state police to leave their neighborhood. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)
A flood washed out Narrows Road, the only street connecting a peninsula with the rest of Freetown. Residents have to board all-terrain vehicles operated by the state police to leave their neighborhood. (Bianca Vazquez Toness/WBUR)

Patrick also says he was impressed by the response to the storm.

"I was out (Monday) in Lexington and Fall River, Freetown and Lakeville," Patrick said. "I saw extraordinary damage and disruption. I also saw extraordinary cooperation and professionalism."

Freetown Selectman Lawrence Ashley praised response efforts in his hard-hit town.

"All the state agencies have been absolutely fantastic — state reps., everybody," he said. "We really appreciate it."

The National Weather Service said Tuesday's rain in Boston brought the monthly total to nearly 14 inches, making it not only the rainiest March on record but the second rainiest month ever, behind the 17 inches that fell in August 1955.

Some of the hardest hit areas during the latest storm were Dighton with 7 1/4 inches; Weymouth with 7; and Rehoboth with nearly seven. Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Acushnet, and West Bridgewater all got more than six inches.

Flood warnings remained for a number of rivers, including the Merrimack River in Lawrence, which the National Weather Service said was expected to rise to 24 feet by early Thursday, four feet above flood stage.

Record flooding was forecast for the Sudbury River in the Saxonville section of Framingham, and authorities were also concerned about the Charles River in Dover; the Assebet River in Maynard; and the Taunton River in Bridgewater.

Wednesday Morning Storm Coverage:

Tuesday Coverage:

This program aired on March 31, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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