Officials discuss next steps after landslide blocks Presumpscot River in Westbrook

State and Westbrook officials met Thursday to determine the next steps after a landslide blocked the Presumpscot River on Wednesday.Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Rogers said teams of engineers and other officials will be at the landslide over the next few days to try to figure out how big the blockage is and what’s in it.Officials said they are still working on a plan to remove the blockage. A major challenge is the area is hard to reach because the ground is unstable.Officials said weather is on their side, with not rain in the forecast over the next several days. The cause of landslide remains under investigation.Rogers said the situation is looking better, with some water naturally flowing through the blockage. A senior geologist with the state said drought conditions in the area limited the potential threat from the river being blocked.”We’re really lucky that it’s been such a dry summer and that the Presumpscot River is relatively controlled with dams, because it can probably hold some water back,” Maine Geological Survey senior geologist Lindsay Spigel said.Spigel said the composition of the land along the river makes it susceptible to landslides. She said historically, these types of landslides along the river are not unusual.Officials said they feel they can keep water levels safe at this point until they are able to clear the blockage. Water levels upstream of the blockage have been doing down since peaking at more than 13 feet Wednesday afternoon.Rogers said Gov. Janet Mills was aware of the situation and reached out to Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley on Wednesday.The landslide occurred Wednesday morning downstream from the Sappi mill.River levels upstream of the landslide increased rapidly, triggering the Foley to declare a state of emergency and the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch.“River flow is being controlled by Sappi here in the city, and there’s no imminent danger. We do advise that folks do not respond to the area to attempt to view the damage,” Foley said Wednesday.The flash flooding watch was dropped Wednesday night as water levels receded on the river. Officials urged people to stay out of the area due to safety concerns. Area walking trails are closed.

State and Westbrook officials met Thursday to determine the next steps after a landslide blocked the Presumpscot River on Wednesday.

Maine Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Rogers said teams of engineers and other officials will be at the landslide over the next few days to try to figure out how big the blockage is and what’s in it.

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Officials said they are still working on a plan to remove the blockage. A major challenge is the area is hard to reach because the ground is unstable.

Officials said weather is on their side, with not rain in the forecast over the next several days.

The cause of landslide remains under investigation.

Rogers said the situation is looking better, with some water naturally flowing through the blockage.

A senior geologist with the state said drought conditions in the area limited the potential threat from the river being blocked.

“We’re really lucky that it’s been such a dry summer and that the Presumpscot River is relatively controlled with dams, because it can probably hold some water back,” Maine Geological Survey senior geologist Lindsay Spigel said.

Spigel said the composition of the land along the river makes it susceptible to landslides. She said historically, these types of landslides along the river are not unusual.

Officials said they feel they can keep water levels safe at this point until they are able to clear the blockage.

Water levels upstream of the blockage have been doing down since peaking at more than 13 feet Wednesday afternoon.

Rogers said Gov. Janet Mills was aware of the situation and reached out to Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley on Wednesday.

The landslide occurred Wednesday morning downstream from the Sappi mill.

River levels upstream of the landslide increased rapidly, triggering the Foley to declare a state of emergency and the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood watch.

“River flow is being controlled by Sappi here in the city, and there’s no imminent danger. We do advise that folks do not respond to the area to attempt to view the damage,” Foley said Wednesday.

The flash flooding watch was dropped Wednesday night as water levels receded on the river.

Officials urged people to stay out of the area due to safety concerns. Area walking trails are closed.