From: Reuters
Published May 1, 2008 04:22 PM

Hundreds evacuated in Maine amid record flood

BOSTON (Reuters) - A river swollen by heavy rain and melting snow overflowed its banks along the U.S.-Canadian border, forcing hundreds of people to flee homes and businesses in Fort Kent, Maine, and closing two border crossings.

The St. John River rose 30 feet and spilled into the town leaving stores and homes on Main Street under seven to eight feet of water, said John Bannen, Fort Kent's director of Community Development. Police and Border Patrol blocked off downtown Fort Kent on Thursday morning.

Less than 24 hours earlier about 600 people were forced to leave the town in a hurry when the river threatened to rise above a 30-foot (9-metre) dike built to protect the area. The town is 430 miles north of Boston.

Town and state officials called it the worst flood in 80 years of record keeping.

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"We have never seen anything of this magnitude," Bannen said, adding that the town is virtually cut off with only one road open.

The Fort Kent and Van Buren border crossings between the United States and Canada were also closed after the 78-year-old steel truss Clair-Fort Kent bridge spanning the St. John River, was submerged, Lynette Miller, a spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency said.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss, editing by Jackie Frank)

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