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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Situation Update: Kennebec River Ice Jam and Ice-Breaking

Situation Update: Kennebec River Ice Jam and Ice-Breaking


January 29, 2010

5:00 PM



Maine Dept. of Marine Resources, Bureau of Marine Patrol:
Colonel Joseph Fessenden

Lynette Miller or Rob McAleer


  • The US Coast Guard continues to break ice in the lower Kennebec River. This effort will continue into the weekend
  • Weather delayed the third ice-breaker from joining the effort today. Barring further unforeseen issues, all three boats will be working in the river by Saturday morning.
  • The ice-breakers cannot pass under the Gardiner bridge and so will not be able to reach the jam itself. However, clearing the river below Gardiner will give the ice a clear path downstream should the jam break. In addition, opening the channel may affect the flow in the river, and thereby help erode the ice jam. Experts from the Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regional Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) and USGS have advised that the ice-breaking is the best course of action at this time to attempt to mitigate additional ice jam flooding.
  • The Department of Marine Resources, Maine Marine Patrol is overseeing safety on the Kennebec. Fisherman are being urged by Marine Patrol Officers to remove their shacks if it is safe to do so and to not venture out on the ice as it may likely become unsafe during ice breaking operations.

Continuing Urgent Safety Message:

  • As the ice-breaking continues, the river ice downstream of the Gardiner bridge will become more and more unstable and unpredictable. Everyone along the river should stay off the ice, and stay well back from the river.

Kennebec Ice Jam:

  • The ice jam remains in place, from the Gardiner-Randolph area back to Farmingdale. Flow in the river has continued to drop below flood stage. The National Weather Service has dropped the Flood Warning in the area. However, ice jam flooding is unpredictable, and the presence of the jam continues to pose a risk to riverfront interests.
  • Kennebec County Emergency Management Agency and MEMA have been in constant coordination with the USGS and CRREL for technical assistance concerning the jam. Actions Taken:
  • Kennebec EMA continues to work with local officials and concerned citizens to ensure that the River Communities have the information and resources they need to respond to the flooding and continuing risk.
  • US Coast Guard, at the request of the State, is performing ice breaking operations.
  • The Maine Marine Patrol has been monitoring ice conditions along the Kennebec River since the ice jam formed late Tuesday afternoon
  • The MMP conducted aerial flights of the Kennebec River both Wednesday and Thursday to assess the ice jam as well as take aerial photos of ice breaking operations.
  • Marine Patrol has requested the assistance of a Maine Warden Service airboat and crew to assist in any river rescue should the need arise. The boat is presently deployed at the Richmond Town Landing and will be requested to remain on station through Saturday.
  • Marine Patrol Officers will continue to cover the Merrymeeting Bay area through the weekend in order to closely monitor activities and river conditions.

Should the ice jam remain in place after the ice-breaking is complete, MEMA will work with the USGS and CRREL and state, county and local officials to explore potential additional mitigative actions.



Last update: 07/20/10