This year marks the 20th anniversary of the ice jam flooding in Fort Fairfield. Shawn Cunningham begins a three night retrospective of the disaster that left many people displaced from their homes, many businesses in shambles and an entire county trying to figure out how to rebuild and move forward as a community. And that’s exactly what they did…TOGETHER. And throughout it all, Newssource 8 was there.
(Archived Newssource 8 Flooding Footage/Intro)
Archived images that a community can’t forget. And every spring,
(TAKE FORT FAIRFIELD LOCATOR HERE
brings Fort Fairfield residents to the river’s edge…WATCHING flood potential CLOSELY, wanting to be reassured history won’t repeat itself ending with a disastrous flooding like it did in 1994. Mary Schneider will never forget climbing out her bedroom window to make it to safety.
“I would have stayed in the house because I was terrified of the idea of getting out the window and I said no I’ll stay here I’ll be fine…and then the fire chief said, “no, you won’t stay here..” and they backed the front end loader up to the garage and we had to climb out a window and across the roof and I was just terrified,” says Schneider.
Rescue stories like Schneider’s were shared and repeated MANY times by MANY PEOPLE impacted by the flood.
Paul Rediker remembers people being rescued from the flood and says “I can remember pay loaders going up the side of the river and picking our neighbors up off the roofs however we did realize as it got to its peak it was very dangerous.” “It was just devastating, devastating. I mean we had some little kids that lived down over the hill came here to spend the day with us because their mother was busy trying to take care of the animals and get them out and find a place for them to go…it was just mass chaos,” adds his wife Jeanette.
(NAT. SOUND/VIDEO FROM NEWSSOURCE FLOODING COVERAGE)
So this is Riverside Avenue today, and along this street there used to be homes, a neighborhood of folks who for many years lived here expecting issues like water in their cellar every spring. But on one expected the kind of calamity in ’94 resulting in many folks leaving and property destroyed.
Some folks say they can think back and be somewhat lighthearted about living through the experience…
Willie Dorsey remembers his workplace being flooded and says “We had a counter which was about four feet high and the water was over the counter inside the building..”
SC: “were you scared…”
WD: (he laughs) “nooo, probably didn’t know enough to be scared…(laughs)
But for others who lost their homes and property this flooding created rising waters of an emotional kind….TEARS. Mary Schneider had her home uprooted and moved to higher ground. The same home she was evacuated from.
“We got to a place where the ground was higher and our neighbors were there to meet us bless their hearts and they took us home and looked after us…” says Mary.
Tomorrow night, we continue our look back with how businesses were impacted.